One of the hardest things about running a Stalker game is that the players expect to have free reign to explore the Zone as they please, but will feel bored if not offered any specific missions or jobs. So I've compiled a list of some plot hooks that would work for 1 or 2 session adventures. Stalker lends itself to being quite episodic in nature, each session a snapshot of the life of a group of characters as they strive towards every Stalkers ultimate goal, to reach the center of the Zone, and be granted their ultimate wish.
A famous foreign Journalist has made it to the Zone, with the intention of delivering the first uncensored report of what Stalkers are, and what the Zone holds for humanity as a whole. The Characters are offered the job of escorting the Journalist into the Zone, and showing him some of the more wonders and horrors of anomalies, mutants and artifacts. The Journalist wants to see how Stalkers live, fight and die in the Zone. The trouble is, one of the Bandit leaders has gotten wind of the journalists arrival, and plans to kidnap him and ransom him back to his editors.
The Ecologists at Yantar are studying the behavioural patterns of snorks, trying to determine if they are still indeed human, or if they have reverted completely to feral animals. The Ecologists provide the characters with several wireless microphones/cameras, which they have to position deep in the sewers and pipe networks of Yantar, which are home to the Zones largest concentration of Snorks. The pipes are cramped and dark, and carry sound easily. It wont be long before any Snorks down there hone in on the Characters presence.
A Glass Half Empty
News reaches the Characters of a rookie Stalker named Gong, who lucked out on his first trip into the Zone, and found himself an 'Empty' Artifact. Only, this ones not 'Empty. Gong panicked when he was stopped by a Duty patrol in Rostok while on his way to the bar. Fearing that they would rob and kill him, he fired on them and fled into the Wild Territory, the dangerous and maze like indrustrial districts of the City of Rostok, outside of the control of Duty. No one has seen or heard from him in two days, but gunfire was heard recently heard in the vicinity of old library building. The Barkeep is offering a sizeable reward for whomever brings him this full 'Empty', but Sidorovich is promising to double the price. Crossing either could spell trouble for the Characters.
A Rock and a Hard Place.
Several small transport helicopters were seen recently around the Zaton area, reports are coming in that the Mercenaries operating in that area have been receiving large container shipments of guns, ammunition, food and materials. Duty fear that the Mercenaries are planning to establish a permanent Headquarters in Zaton, which is a direct threat to Duty. The characters are hired to sneak into the Mercenary compound and detonate the ammunition stockpiles and sabotage the equipment. They are being hired so Duty can claim no involvement in the situation should it go south. What Duty didn't know, is that Freedom has mounted a similar operation, who accidentally trip the alarm just as the Characters are finishing their job.
Recently heavy rainfall has caused mudslides in the Army Warehouses area, revealing a previously undiscovered tunnel entrance. Rumors abound that this might be the route to Lemansk, the lost city. Freedom are offering a sizeable reward to the first person to explore the tunnels. This is in fact the secret road to Lemansk, a three kilometre underground tunnel, that combines with an underground stream and several stories of maintenance rooms. But these side rooms also hold a dark secret, one of the 'X' designated laboratories is hidden deep under this tunnel network. Do the characters continue on to Lemansk and claim the reward?, or venture into X-11 and see what secrets they can scavange leaving the Lemansk route reward to other willing Stalkers?