Thursday, 29 September 2016

ATZ - an English Adventure! Introduction part 1

****Warning this is a really long blog post, get a cuppa and get comfy****

Hi all

After playing a great game of ATZ-the board game with my son a little while ago, I started getting my appetite back for zombie wargaming.  Not that it was ever too far away but the full on immersion of collecting, painting and gaming of Bushido has certainly held my attention for so long that other hobby games have been kept almost at arms length.  No my love for Bushido has not dimmed at all, its still my favorite game by a long way but I'm not a one trick pony and still love the other games in my life.  So with Zombtober looming I started to think to myself what could I do in my very limited free time i.e the time between work/study/family which equates to about an hour a day, last thing before bedtime......


yeah baby! It's time to break out the modular boards that I slavishly worked on over last year and spent quite a bit of cash on and then put under the table when I discovered Bushido... oops! But in the past I keep starting and stopping campaigns as I run out of steam or enthusiasm for the characters that I have come up with so it was time to do things differently.  This time I have taken a leaf out of the ATZ Grandmaster himself Mr Bryan "Vampifan" Scott and I'm gonna base the characters on people currently in my life whether personally, socially or professionally and the principal character will be based on ME! or at least a version of me, in fact all the characters are versions and I will change names slightly to protect the innocent.  In fact the name I've chosen for me is Andy "da Gobbo" Wosa, this is not my surname of course but the name that a local fast food outlet called me DESPITE me spelling my rather difficult (not!) four letter surname over the phone, Wosa is now a standard joke in my family when people get our name wrong!

Unusually for ATZ my campaign will be set, as the title suggests in fair England and not in the US. This will require some adjustment to be made particularly in the cards that I use when searching buildings as firearms are a lot less likely to be found in the average household in England and those that are about tend to be shotguns (farms) and target pistols (.22) of course there are other types of guns about but they tend to be in the possession of law enforcement (still fairly scarce) and of course criminal gangs (not as rare as people may think).  So the campaign is to be set in England, to be more accurate the county of Kent which is located in the South East of the country and borders the nations capital London.  In fact the campaign will be entirely set in the Isle of Thanet....

The Isle of Thanet*

The Isle of Thanet /ˈθænɪt/ lies at the most easterly point of Kent, England. While in the past it was separated from the mainland by the 600-metre (2,000 ft) Wantsum Channel, it is no longer an island. Archaeological remains testify to the fact that ancient peoples lived here. Today, it is a tourist destination, but it also has a busy agricultural base. Standard reference works for English place-names, such as Eilert Ekwall's Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, state that the name "Thanet" is Celtic in origin, and may mean "bright island" or "fire island", perhaps from the presence of a beacon or lighthouse. The Historia Brittonum, written in Wales in the 9th century, states that "Tanet" was the name used for the island by the legendary Anglo-Saxons Hengist and Horsa, while its name in contemporary Welsh was "Ruoi(c)hin"; this name may be translated as "gift" (compare Modern Welsh rhwych). The 7th-century Archbishop Isidore of Seville recorded an apocryphal folk-etymology in which the island's name is fancifully connected with the Greek word for death (Thanatos/Θάνατος), stating that Thanet, "an island of the ocean separated from Britain by a narrow channel ... [was] called Tanatos from the death of serpents; for while it has none of its own, soil taken from it to any place whatsoever kills snakes there." Archaeological evidence shows that the area now known as the Isle of Thanet was one of the major areas of Stone Age settlement. A large hoard of Bronze Age implements has been found at Minster-in-Thanet; and several Iron Age settlements have also come to light.

Like their predecessors, the Romans also crossed the sea to invade Britain. Julius Caesar came first, briefly, in both 55 and 54 BC; one hundred years later Claudius sent four legions to Britain, where the Romans were to remain for the next four hundred years. During that time the port of Richborough, on the opposite side of the Wantsum Channel, became one of the chief ports. After the breakup of the Roman Empire and their departure from Britain, other invaders soon followed.
Vortigern, King of the Britons, was under attack from other tribes and called for assistance. Among them were the Jutes Hengest and Horsa; he is said to have rewarded them with the Isle of Thanet in return for their services. As the following extract from the Historia Britonum (first written sometime shortly after AD 833) testifies:
Then came three keels, driven into exile from Germany. In them were the brothers Horsa and Hengest ... Vortigern welcomed them, and handed over to them the island that in their language is called Thanet, in British Ruoihm.

Throughout this time the Isle remained an island. The Wantsum Channel allowed ships to sail between the mainland and the island in calm waters. Gradually this silted up, and the last ship sailed through the Channel in 1672.
In 597 Augustine of Canterbury is said, by the Venerable Bede, to have landed with 40 men at Ebbsfleet, in the parish of Minster-in-Thanet, before founding Britain's second Christian monastery in Canterbury (the first was founded fifty years earlier by Saint Columba on Eilean na Naoimh, in the Hebrides): a cross marks the spot. In 851 and again in 854, the Vikings wintered on Thanet.
Minster's village website states "It is widely believed, around 670 AD, whether in truth or legend, that the Hind emblem owes its origin to Egbert, King of Kent and Princess Domneva. The King purportedly asked Domneva which piece of land she wished to take as compensation for the murder of her two brothers. Her answer was that she would take no more than her tame deer would run around. This the King granted her with pleasure, and the land became the new Minster." Domneva is a variant name for Domne Eafe.

By 1334–1335 Thanet had the highest population density in Kent according to Edward III's lay subsidy rolls. It acted as a granary for Calais and documents towards the end of that century refer to turreted walls beneath the cliffs needing maintenance. Coastal erosion has long since destroyed these structures.
The Isle of Thanet first came into being when sea levels rose after the last Ice Age, around 5000 BC. The North Sea encroached on the land which is now the estuary of the River Thames, and southwards to reach the higher land of the North Downs, leaving behind an island composed of Upper Chalk in its wake. Eventually the sea broke through river valleys in the North Downs to the south (Middle Chalk) and finally today's English Channel was opened up. The Upper Chalk is a soft pure-white limestone with abundant flints. The proto-River Stour then formed part of the intervening water, with a new tributary, the River Wantsum, completing it; it became known as the Wantsum Channel.
The Wantsum Channel gradually narrowed as pebble beaches built up at the southern end of the strait, blocking silt coming down the Stour. Bede, in the 8th century, said that the Channel was then three furlongs wide (660 yards (600 m)). A map of 1414 showed a ferry crossing at Sarre. The first bridge over the channel was built there in 1485. Until the mid 18th century there was a ferry between Sandwich and the island; in 1755 a wooden drawbridge was built, and the ferry was closed.
Today the Isle is an island no longer and the erstwhile channel is now flat marshland criss-crossed by drainage ditches. Meanwhile, the exposed chalk cliffs are gradually being worn down by the sea, particularly at the North Foreland. Much else of the coast is a built-up area. The Wantsum area is still liable to flooding: during the North Sea flood of 1953 Thanet was cut off for a few days, but the sea defences have been strengthened since then.

The soil and equable climate of the Isle have always encouraged arable farming.
"... a garden indeed, a county of corn but the labourers' houses all along, beggarly in the extreme. The people dirty, poor-looking, but particularly dirty."
— William Cobbett in 1823 when he rode to the Island
Today there are still farms inland, but the coast is nearly all covered in settlements, most of which have come into being in the 19th and 20th centuries.
As the popularity of the seaside resort grew, so did that of the Isle of Thanet. At first the holidaymakers came by boat from London; after the coming of the railways in the mid-1840s, that became the preferred mode of transport

* Apologies but I have shamelessly taken this from Wikipedia, poor research on my behalf but I'm time pressured and it's fairly accurate in this instance - so there!

WAKE UP!!!!!

By now, no doubt you're probably thinking what the bloody hell is he on about? where are the zombies? what is he up to? Well I wanted to give you an insight to the locale of the campaign as it's important to know.  The Isle of Thanet used to be a proper Island, separated from the mainland by a body of fast flowing water, now it's a peninsula due to the silt build up of the Wantsum. But what if that was to change? what if, for example something happened to remove those centuries of silt in an instant? The Wantsum has flooded before following a swell (just a swell) in the North Sea, what if something bigger happened that changed the landscape and all at the worst possible time.....

SS Richard Montgomery was an American Liberty ship built during World War II, one of the 2,710 used to carry cargo during the war. The ship was wrecked off the Nore sandbank in the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness, England in 1944 with around 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of explosives on board, which continues to be a hazard to the area.

The ship was built by the St. Johns River Shipbuilding Company in its second year of operations, and was the seventh of the 82 such ships built by that yard. Laid down on 15 March 1943, she was launched on 15 June 1943, and completed on 29 July 1943, given the official ship number 243756, and named after General Richard Montgomery, an Ulster soldier who was killed during the American Revolution.
In August 1944, on what was to be her final voyage, the ship left Hog Island, Philadelphia, where she had been loaded with 6,127 tons of munitions.
She travelled from the Delaware River to the Thames Estuary, then anchored while awaiting the formation of a convoy to travel to Cherbourg, France, which had come under Allied control on 27 July 1944 during the Battle of Normandy.
When Richard Montgomery arrived off Southend, she came under the authority of the Thames naval control at HMS Leigh located at the end of Southend Pier. The harbour master, responsible for all shipping movements in the estuary, ordered the ship to a berth off the north edge of Sheerness middle sands, an area designated as the Great Nore Anchorage.
On 20 August 1944, she dragged anchor and ran aground on a sandbank around 250 metres from the Medway Approach Channel, in a depth of 24 feet (7.3 m) of water. The general dry cargo liberty ship had an average draught of 28 ft (8.5 m); however, Richard Montgomery was trimmed to a draught of 31 ft (9.4 m). As the tide went down, the ship broke her back on sand banks near the Isle of Sheppey about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) from Sheerness and 5 miles (8 km) from Southend.
A Rochester-based stevedore company was given the job of removing the cargo, which began on 23 August 1944, using the ship's own cargo handling equipment. By the next day, the ship's hull had cracked open, causing several cargo holds at the bow end to flood. The salvage operation continued until 25 September, when the ship was finally abandoned before all the cargo had been recovered. Subsequently, the ship broke into two separate parts, roughly at the midsection.
During the enquiry following the shipwreck it was revealed that several ships moored nearby had noticed Richard Montgomery drifting towards the sandbank. They had attempted to signal an alert by sounding their sirens without avail, since throughout this Captain Wilkie of Richard Montgomery was asleep. The ship's chief officer was unable to explain why he had not alerted the captain. A Board of Inquiry concluded that the anchorage the harbour master assigned had placed the ship in jeopardy, and returned Richard Montgomery's captain to full duty within a week.
According to a survey conducted in 2000 by the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the wreck still held munitions containing approximately 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of TNT high explosive. These comprise the following items of ordnance:
  • 286 × 2,000 lb (910 kg) high explosive "Blockbuster" bombs
  • 4,439 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs of various types
  • 1,925 × 500 lb (230 kg) bombs
  • 2,815 fragmentation bombs and bomb clusters
  • Various explosive booster charges
  • Various smoke bombs, including white phosphorus bombs
  • Various pyrotechnic signals
An investigation by New Scientist magazine concluded in 2004, based partly on government documents released in 2004, that the cargo was still deadly, and could be detonated by a collision, an attack, or even shifting of the cargo in the tide. The bad condition of the bombs is such that they could explode spontaneously. Documents declassified shortly before revealed that the wreck was not dealt with immediately after it happened, or in the intervening 60 years, due to the expense.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency nevertheless believe that the risk of a major explosion is remote. The UK government's Receiver of Wreck commissioned a risk assessment in 1999, but this risk assessment has not been published. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency convened with local and port authorities to discuss the report in 2001 and concluded that "doing nothing was not an option for much longer."
One of the reasons that the explosives have not been removed was the unfortunate outcome of a similar operation in July 1967 to neutralize the contents of Kielce, a ship of Polish origin, sunk in 1946 off Folkestone in the English Channel. During preliminary work Kielce, containing a comparable amount of ordnance, exploded with force equivalent to an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale, digging a 20-foot-deep (6 m) crater in the seabed and bringing "panic and chaos" to Folkestone, although no injuries.
According to a BBC news report in 1970, it was determined that if the wreck of Richard Montgomery exploded, it would throw a 1,000-foot-wide (300 m) column of water and debris nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 m) into the air and generate a wave 16 feet (5 m) high. Almost every window in Sheerness (pop. circa 20,000) would be broken and buildings would be damaged by the blast. However, news reports in May 2012 (including one by BBC Kent) stated that the wave could be about 4 feet (1 m) high, which although lower than previous estimates would be enough to cause flooding in some coastal settlements.
When the condition of the munitions was originally assessed there was concern that copper azide, an extremely sensitive explosive, would be produced through reaction between lead azide and copper from fuse components (lead azide would react with water vapour, rather than liquid water, to form hydrazoic acid, which could react with copper in the detonating cap to form copper azide).
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said in 1998, "as the fuses will probably all have been flooded for many years and the sensitive compounds referred to are all soluble in water this is no longer considered to be a significant hazard."
Critics of government assurances that the likelihood of a major explosion is remote argue that one of the fuses of the 2,600 fuzed-fragmentation devices could become partially flooded and undergo the reaction producing copper azide. A knock, such as caused by the ship breaking up further, or a collision on the busy shipping lane, could cause the copper azide to explode and trigger an explosive chain reaction detonating the bulk of the munitions.
The wreck site has been surveyed regularly since 1965 to determine the stability of the structure, with a diver survey being completed in 2003. High-resolution multi-beam sonar surveys in 2005 and September 2006 found that there had been no recent significant movement of the wreck.
Surveys undertaken in 2008 and 2009 by the MCA, and reported in September 2011, showed that the ship was continuing to deteriorate structurally, with accelerated deterioration in some areas and new cracks appearing in the bow section of the wreck. The report states that "Whilst significant structural collapse does not appear to be imminent, surveys suggest that this prospect is getting closer."


So now we have an Island that is no longer an island with a ship full of explosives wrecked only a few nautical miles from Thanet that could cause an underwater earthquake and could cause a tidal wave, albeit a smallish one.  BUT what if the estimations of the effects were under-reported to avoid a panic in those coastal towns? what if the amount of explosives was underestimated? would the shock wave be stronger? would the tidal wave be bigger? could that be enough to cut off the people of Thanet from the rest of Kent? 

What if the SS Montgomery was transporting something else intended to support the Allies in the war effort against the Axis? what if that weapon was a virus, a particularly nasty one that has been sitting on a ship wreck for the last 70+ years, able to survive extreme environments, mutating and waiting........

to be continued.......


  1. Oh my word, what a great idea - watching with interest!

  2. Excellent! Sounds like your brain has gone into overdrive! They'll be making a film about this before you know it!!

    1. It certainly has Ray, it has been fizzing in my brain for a while

  3. WOW! I see so many possibilities here, Andy. You have the basis of an excellent ATZ campaign all perfectly planned out. Great "what if" background you have come up with. Very imaginative.

    Two of the many things I'd like to applaud you on are first, well done on setting your campaign in England. Campaigns set in America don't bother me at all, I can understand why it is the default setting and I'm okay with that. Still, it is nice to see games set in the UK. Good call.

    Secondly, basing your hero on yourself obviously meets with my approval. You will want to take care of him far more than any other survivor and hopefully not make any rash decisions. Remember, running away is a sound tactic if facing overwhelming odds.

    I know I am definitely going to enjoy reading about your exploits in a zombie apocalypse. Good luck, my friend!

    1. Thank you Bryan, I'm going to be using your character sheets for it if that's ok?

    2. Please do, Andy. They are free to use by anyone who wants them.

    3. Cheers mate gonna use all your modifications too ;-)

  4. I eventually got through your great idea!

  5. Part 1

    I think the modern day word Thanet is probably closer to Island of the flame, and would have been closely associated with the pagan horned God Yngvi Freyr's. Hence the beacon remains....not a lighthouse... (found because of the discolouration and char on the ground when they checked its geophysics location) which would most likely have been the remains of one of the earliest “wicker men” in celebration of “Tew” and the paganistic symbolic decline of the Holly King and the re-birth of the “Sun King” to warm the crops of the coming year. So Bright Island is probably another corruption of Flame Island.

    The word Tane'tus can actually be found in the doomsday book and mans small island, where as the word `tan` which is Celtic, means fire or flame; so somewhere along the way the two words merged, I think, and became the modern day Thanet (often these things happen in Monkish translation, like the name Boadicea... Tacitus literally mis-spelt it from its original Boudicca).

    This stuff really interests me you see Andy, as I studied Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic at University long, loooong time ago. When I spotted this, I was like wow, intense man. And proceeded to pour over it with an avid eye.

    The Welsh Ruoi`c`hin" (from the Mabinogian) is a dubious connection, as the Welsh influence that far south east was tentative to say the least.... tending to stay within their Marcher lands of Cymry. The "gift".... or rhwych is a nice tie in, but it doesn’t convince me.

    Anyyyyyway. The land reclaim interested me, it’s like Ely and Meeple in Cambridgeshire, or Glastonbury in Somerset, all once marsh islands, washes, or lowland flats with a tendency to flood for great parts of any given year. Thanet is a prime example of a land (England) still desperately trying to align itself from the mass removal of nearly 90% of England`s forests, and so much of the land was simply a mass sponge for water absorption.

    1. Thanks Steve for this, frankly amazing stuff! I'm ashamed to say my research was mostly Wikipedia as my card is a bit full at present. Can't believe I've managed to do this

    2. lol no no, my mind is just full of this stuff and nonsense, and works that way haha. Nothing wrong with a good bit of wiki now and again. Its not always accurate, but its a great resource. And in this case, zombies... hell yeah, use all it has to offer. Especially useful when short on time.

    3. It has encouraged me to dig deeper into Thanets history too

  6. Part 2

    The next part that made me prick up my ears was your mention of the Richard Montgomery. Take this a step further and pre suppose for a moment that she has picked up ballast from the Delaware, suddenly you have one part of a two part zombie connection. The Delaware woodland indians (from which the river got its name) actually used to practice an unusual form of ritualistic shamanism, which employed rendered and powdered down bones of the dead (especially victims who has been inflicted in life, small pox, plague etc etc), also they would paint runes on the bones and.... well they did a lot of unhealthy rites. Many of these magics were used toward the burial grounds of the dead.

    Ballast for a ship.... hmmmm, and that ship later sinks in the estuary near your Thanet. Perfect!! England actually went through two mini ice ages over the last three centuries, one was when the Thames froze over and people ice skated on the water, and street venders sold chestnuts to the happy skaters all through that winter. The other was about the time scale you mention in your amazing introduction. On a lesser scale, but the increase in the ice flow from the prevalent waters melted and produced some pretty dynamic flooding along the poor unprotected (mostly limestone) English coastline. England knew winter flooding and mass land degradation on an unprecedented scale for the early part of the twentieth century, and so yeah that alone could account for Thanet becoming pretty much waterlogged by vast mudflats (images of hundreds of zombies buried and stuck, up to their waists in mud is an appealing one), and with the increased high tides, Thanet might actually become an island at high tide. At low tides, just this vast mile long stretch of impassable mud flat.

    Now suppose your ship DID indeed explode... maybe at high tide, in the middle of a wild storm, so the bulk of the bang went undetected... but the tidal flow exacerbated your flood and created an even more pronounced island effect due to the sudden coastal erosion. Now, suddenly, we’re talking!!! Delaware ground/powdered bone, in the ship’s hull, as ballast, mixed with.... whatever else that ship was carrying, and bingo! I think you have your zombie plague ^^

    I absolutely love this Andy. You have put a lot into this and I really appreciate things well done like this. Please do keep it up, and we shall all of us, no doubt, be anticipating each new installment with baited breath, hungry eyes, and enthralled minds.

    Just one thing I would beg.. pleeease make the writing bigger do my poor eyes dont have to struggle so much hehe.

    1. Haha Steve have you been peeking at my synopsis? Apart from the ballast/Delaware bit......

    2. WOooohooooooo, we have a veritable feast ahead..... hmmmm

      .... or maybe the zombies do ^^

  7. Well thought out Andy. I love things with this much rich background and back filler. Makes the actual games, when you get to them, that much more rewarding. That you base it in England (and who knows where you might take it, perhaps one day, Europe too) is commendable. There is so little of this sort of thing that is not set in the US, it’s like a breath of fresh air to read something so much closer to home. Suddenly it becomes recognizable (our own culture, so immediately easy to relate to), intimately familiar, and allows total immersion.. without having to wonder exactly what a Turn Pike looks like, or a Snake Rail fence? or a Drive Through Theater!! or what does an American Baseball or Hocky field (and surrounding `lock house` stadium buildings) actually look like? I know, because I have seen these things for real, and trust me, none of these things looks anything like you might suppose from watching the movies hehehe. But most people haven’t seen any of this. I love Stephen King books, but until I actually l-i-v-ed out in North America (and Canada) for a while, I has no idea what half the stuff he was talking about really looked like. So a zombie theme set somewhere familiar, can only be a good thing in my mind hun.

    I really like your first intro, and I read it through twice. I will take another look too, later on. This has really whet the appetite for the main attraction. Tarot also says “WOW” btw.

  8. I did think of setting a zombie campaign up on the Isle of Sheppy! (Just need to blow or barricade the bridges and you have a defendable area. ) But Thanet would work just as well. As I live on a hill I am less worried about the big waves if the boat does blow. (But let us hope it does not as I am sure to be eaten by zombies very quickly!)

    Nice idea well thought out!
    Part 1 of 2 and part 2 WILL get deleted as it will contain my email address.

    Nice one.

    1. Good idea Clint! The low bridge is a cantilever so raise it and then destroy it, the high bridge is the issue isn't it?

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  10. Brilliant, although I imagine that a zombie plague in Margate will only improve the population

    1. Harsh but fair! Hahahaha at first it would be difficult to tell the difference....

  11. A long introduction, but what a good one!

    1. Thank you Cedric, bit of a slog to get through but hopefully worth it

  12. Quite a setup. Consider me intrigued.

    1. Will do! More to come on Monday. First Zombtober pic post tomorrow though, of course I've got to fit it in between the night shifts I'm on at the mo....

  13. This will be a great read. Such a good campaign backstory, can't wait to see where you go with it!

    1. Thanks mate, can't wait to get stuck into the games!

  14. That is a great backstory Andy, if you get out what you've put into this you should have a ball!

    Cheers Roger.

  15. *claps slowly and loudly*

    WOW, only word I can utter.

  16. What a read! I like the context you've set for the campaign. There are not many campaings I know of set in England, this shouldbe very interesting.

    1. Thanks Joe, just playing the first day and already there is some differences...

  17. Nice, I could see the virus being from the Japanese Army research lab that was found and captured by the Allies, plus I can see a lot of hush, hush, things that can pop up after many years hidden under seas/water :)

    1. thanks TA, the possibilities are endless! with supersoldier projects prevalent throughout the conflict coupled with the acceleration of technology and a certain leaders supposed obsession with the occult...

    2. Funny thing is that between the danish and the Swedish coastlines there have been found Nazi Submarines which have no record of existing and there have even been found a Russian Submarine, and if I'm not mistaking they had no battle damages, well this is more of interest for us Scandinavians I guess :)

    3. I bet there are all sorts of wrecks and oddities that resulted from WW2. I'm interested in them all Scandinavian or not

    4. Well Norway did have a lot of hidden Nazi research installations in the fare reaches of the unpopulated ares of Norway, and Poland had some very... horrifying research "camps", I could very well see the virus coming from any of those places, and then there is radiation from a Russian Sub making Mutant zombies.

    5. Indeed, the research performed in these places was of a very dark nature at times resulting in some truly depraved and sinister outcomes

    6. Finally got to read this and will hopefully catch up on your others posts this week into the weekend. The boy did good. And by the boy I mean da gobbo

    7. No worries, hope you enjoyed it :-)