Imagine being a small steel ball on an active pinball table. That's what it's like encountering a Springboard, an unstable gravitational field which imparts a concussive impact to anything drawn into it. One permanently injured stalker at the Bar describes it as 'like being hit by a large, thick sheet of cotton wool, wrapped around a wrecking ball...'
One of the first anomalies ever recorded, it was responsible for many of the earliest military and scientific parties' injuries in the Zone. The amount of damage inflicted changes during its short lifetime of about a week, ranging from instant death at its peak, to multiple internal injuries, permanent brain damage, concussion, then minor bruising as it decays
Easy to spot in daylight by the shimmering overhead 'heat haze' air fluctuation, dancing leaves, and distinctive blood-red stains on the ground around it. Recognized now by every type of anomaly detector, the power and presence of a Springboard can also be revealed by simply throwing something into it. Forms three kinds of artefact: Medusa, Stone Flower, and Night Star
An anomalous formation, roughly 10m in diameter, that has accumulated large amounts of static electricity. When triggered, the anomaly discharges a multitude of miniature lightning bolts, causing a paralytic electrical shock that's almost always lethal to living beings. In daylight, it's recognizable by the bluish fog hovering above it. At night, the Electro will be revealed by any type of detector, or by throwing metal objects into it. Forms four types of artefact: Battery, Sparkler, Flash, and Moonlight
Usually found outdoors, this anomaly is one of the Zone's darker examples of mutated vegetation. Resembling moss or vines hanging down like curtains, it reacts to rapid movement by discharging a cloud of tiny barbs, severely injuring uncovered skin and penetrating anything weaker than body armor. It does not react to slow movement around it and, although one of the few anomalies that do not react to metal bolts, it is generally considered the least dangerous anomaly in the Zone as it can be easily spotted and avoided. Forms three types of artefacts (possibly its seeds): Thorn, Crystal Thorn, and Urchin
Scientifically known as a graviconcentrate, the Vortex is an anomaly of presumed gravitational nature, this is the closest emulation the Zone has ever produced of a black hole. Once triggered, the tremendous power of the Vortex drags everything within its radius of 10-15m towards the center, and victims drawn into the core have little to no chance of survival. Living creatures are quickly constricted into a tight, spinning mass, to be atomized and ejected a moment later in a powerful discharge of kinetic energy
This anomaly remains stationary throughout its lifetime of about a week, and is easily recognizable in daylight by the air fluctuation above, dancing leaves, a distinctive dark stain in the center, and fragments of dismembered corpses scattered around its periphery. It is ferociously dangerous at night, since it is only revealed by a suitable detector or throwing an object into it. Forms three types of artefacts: Quirk, Gravi, and Goldfish
A relatively harmless anomaly that temporarily negates normal gravity within a focused area of a few square metres. This anomaly is suspected to form the Pellicle artefact
Held in respect by members of the Monolith faction because of its unusual luminescence, color, and form reminding them of the legendary Monolith - the granter of wishes and desires. This anomaly possesses strong psi-influence and high background radiation. Within the effective range of this anomaly, which varies extensively with its size, a person experiences a sickening dizziness and spatial disorientation until clear of its influence
While inactive, this anomaly manifests itself as a barely visible shimmer of heated air. When triggered by any object it immediately heats up to lethal temperatures approaching 1500K. At night, it can be revealed by the more powerful detectors, or throwing metal objects into the trigger area. Forms three types of artefact: Droplet, Crystal, and Fireball
This anomaly, of unknown origin, resembles a white fog lying close to the ground. This is actually a mix of heavy toxic gases, and contact with it causes immediate internal and external irritation and burning, especially of the tracheal membrane and lungs. Inhalation for more than a few seconds will cause suffocation, quickly leading to a total collapse of the lungs, and death by asphyxiation
This anomaly looks like a transparent hemisphere, with the unique ability to envelop and suspend objects within its field. This field can separate from the base anomaly, and transform to its subspecies Teleport, becoming a full sphere. Possibly itself a subspecies of the Electro anomaly, the Bubble differs in that once it has triggered, and expelled its electrical energy, it poses no further threat
When it's at rest, you'll barely notice the Tornado's twin gray swirling funnels of air on the ground. Approach within 5 metres of it, however, and your vision and orientation quickly become impaired. Once fully activated, the Tornado will cause substantial damage to anything within a 15-20m radius, lifting it straight into the air, spinning violently. The Tornado's cycle is short but brutal. Should you ever survive one, be prepared to deal with severe internal hemorrhaging...
Similar to a natural water fountain in appearance and sound, this anomaly emits a powerful electrical discharge of anomalous energy that can cause serious damage to body armor, and severe hemorrhaging to the body within. Deceptively, most of its presence is underground, making it much larger, and far more dangerous, than it looks...
Hard to spot on the ground and totally stationary until triggered, the Catcher (also known as a Flytrap) is beyond doubt one of the Zone's most dangerous examples of mutated flora. This bio-anomaly grasps its victims by means of thick barbed tendrils extending from its center, gripping them helplessly while feeding on the extensive bleeding it causes
Make no mistake - this thing will rip through all but the toughest body armor, rendering it totally useless, massively assaulting the nervous system, and making it impossible to move without inflicting further self-harm until it releases its constraint
Even if you survive this encounter, you'll be left traumatized, without protection, and rapidly hemorrhaging to death without immediate assistance and a fast-acting haemostatic coagulant. While it reacts instantly to thrown bolts, only the 'Ultra' detector can identify them close by, which is why some wary stalkers have taken to GPS-marking the locations of this latent menace in areas they frequent
An anomaly of unknown origin which, on contact, inflicts injuries similar to those of a strong acid. Lying just below the ground surface, it is invisible and extremely dangerous. Coming in contact will cause it to erupt without warning, emanating a greenish luminescence over an area up to 10m diameter, and paralyzing its victim. Contact is almost always fatal, dependent on duration of exposure. The Star anomaly can only be picked up by an 'Elite' detector
Effectively a smoke cloud infused with an organic toxin, this anomaly at first looks like a small harmless cloud of gray smoke at ground level. However, on first contact with a victim it increases in volume very quickly, reducing visibility and inflicting various levels of injury. Bleeding from the pores comes first, followed by constricted breathing akin to sulfur dioxide inhalation
Due to the microscopic size of the biotoxin particles involved, a standard gas mask is totally useless, and only a protective suit incorporating a fully independent air circulation system will help. Fortunately, encounters with the Smoke anomaly are rare, and easily avoided when forewarned...
Imagine all the negative energy you'd acquire by living underneath power lines your entire life, then focus that accumulated pressure into one intense pulse. This is the EMI anomaly - the localized remnants of an electromagnetic charge formed during an Emission. Usually occurring alongside high-voltage distribution systems, scrap metal heaps, and other man-made constructions, it can be encountered both above and below ground, causing serious damage to organic lifeforms and electronic equipment
Immediate symptoms are dizziness, nausea, and disorientation before the seizures start, induced into the nervous system by the electrostatic field. Fortunately, there's a short escape period before the anomaly gathers its full strength and the pulse is discharged...
The very nature of this extremely dangerous and near-invisible anomaly makes investigation into its origins and properties impossible. It can be recognized by a light whirlwind of red, hazy, smoke-like dust above, and body fragments scattered on the ground around it, after having been sucked up into the air before being spun, shredded, and ejected at breakneck speed
Victims caught on its outer rim - far enough from the whirling maelstrom at the center - can usually escape with minor injuries. Those caught in the center of its grip, however, should wait for it to 'breathe out' - the weakest point in its cycle - to attempt an escape.... Forms three types of artefact: Stone Blood, Meat Chunk, and Soul
Ionizing radiation is a constant stream of high-speed subatomic particles carrying enough energy to sheer off electrons from every atom or molecule they hit, and knocking them out of their orbit, thus creating harmful 'free radicals'. Not just in organic tissue, but everything...
Under exposure to radiation, metals will creep, harden, and become brittle. Silicon-based microelectronics will break down rapidly, and only 'radiation-hardened' circuitry, designed for military, nuclear, and outer space applications, are suitable for equipment used in the Zone - hence its high cost
Think of these particles as a cloud of tiny metal shards, or miniature missiles - trillions of them - all being launched in every direction, every second, from a practically never-ending source, at over a hundredth of the speed of light. However, unlike visible light, or infra red, this radiation is not detectable by human senses, but nonetheless has a catastrophic effect on organic cells and tissue as it shreds them like a sandblaster...
As an example, imagine the water in your body being altered at molecular level, with some of your H2O becoming H, or O2, or even H2O2 due to free radicals. This is known as 'acute radiation syndrome', which starts with vomiting as the body tries to rid itself of the unknown invader. This, of course, fails and the body goes into a latent phase, where you feel better but your body is being ripped apart at DNA level, right down to your bone marrow where there are no nerve endings. Depending on your dosage, this can continue for weeks before you'll start noticing the debilitating effects in every part of your being...
The next stage, dependent upon your exposure and treatment, will bring either recovery - or death, in the most excruciatingly painful and undignified way imaginable. Under the anomalous influence of the Zone, however, your cells may mutate into something barely recognizable as human - though if you're very, very lucky you might just get away with terminal cancer...
It goes without saying that, in the Zone especially, you need protection from acute radiation syndrome, which you can acquire only too easily from an area with high background radiation, touching something radioactive, or carrying radioactive objects like artefacts - because here in the Zone your health will deteriorate rapidly
If it's not too extreme you can counter this with antirad medication or, at a push, vodka - which has its own well-known side effects on the human body...
A disconcerting anomaly to experience, this is an invisible field, several metres in diameter, that produces a dream-like state where time appears to flow significantly slower. While it appears to have no negative effect on human health, extricating oneself once caught up can be difficult. Interestingly, removing the Glassbeads artefact, which is usually found in the center of the anomaly, causes the Time Machine to disappear...
To understand the Vapour anomaly, imagine being immersed in a bath of CS or 'Mace spray' fluid. The Vapour has a higher density than air, causing it to settle near the ground. When cold, the gas becomes a liquid which is absorbed into the soil, where stored warmth transforms it back into a combination of hygroscopic acidic gases that spread rapidly above the surface. These react rapidly with water in the mucous membranes of the lungs and eyes, leading to the immediate localized production of hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid, which devour organic tissue from the inside. There is no antidote for exposure to the Vapour, other than a long and painful period of recovery...
The oscillating electric and magnetic fields emanating from the Pulsar anomaly will induce an electric current in any conductor through which it passes, capable of delivering an electric shock to humans and animals alike. It also produces a series of oscillating magnetic fields, which can overload, disrupt, and destroy electrical equipment and electronic systems in the same manner as solar storms
The sudden induction of electrical currents caused by these fields can cause serious damage to power distribution transformers, interference with electromagnetic signals (radio, TV, and PDA signals), and even electrical arcs when an induced voltage exceeds the breakdown voltage of the surrounding air. Furthermore, like the spark in an engine, a cooker, or a cigarette lighter, these can ignite flammable materials or gases which, under the right conditions, can result in vapor explosions...
Also known as Hell Slime, this anomaly is a highly visible blue, green, or gold toxic broth that will corrode and consume anything with which it comes into contact. It luminesces brightly, and emits a sharp hissing sound, whenever touched by organic tissue. Any object left in this anomaly will rapidly dissolve or liquefy, confirming its highly acidic or caustic alkaline nature, and possible origin in earth chemicals. Forms three types of artefact: Slime, Slug, and Mica