Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Harm's Way: Pigboats Playtest Session 10

This session started out with working up to Will Montgomery's wedding, and ended up in the Yellow Sea.

Lamarr had arranged with his friend - Mrs. Lockwood, the Admiral's wife - to have the ceremony at the garden of the Admiral's house. He hoped that might impress Amanda's mother, and ease some of the pressure her mother was putting on her. Will went to collect them for the rehearsal, and saw an envelope on the hallway table addressed to Amanda from Bo Larsen, her old boyfriend. While waiting for the women, he lifted the envelope to the light and tried to read it through the envelope, but that didn't work too well. Despite being severely tempted to snatch the letter and read it later, he didn't and put it back on the table.

The women went with him in the Admiral's staff car out to the Admiral's house. Lamarr, talking costs over with Mrs. Lockwood, determined that getting the rich Vanderbilt to pay for this wedding would a just compensation for his hideous practical joke the day before, and began scheming ways to make him foot the bill. Amanda's mother was subdued, awed by the Admiral's obvious blessing for the wedding, though it didn't make her like Will any more.

Back at the Coelocanth, Lamarr suggested to Will that they should make Nick Vanderbilt pay for his practical joke through his wallet. Will decided to use his skills learned in a bad childhood to sneak into Nick's room and steal the money. Will got into Vanderbilt's room with no problem, and began picking opening the lockbox in his footlocker. It wasn't easy, and by the time he had the lock picked and the lockbox opened, Will heard Vanderbilt in the corridor outside conversing with Beau Tambeaux. Sweating bullets, Will went through the contents - a bag of gold double eagles, a bag of dut diamonds, and four checkbooks with apparently over a million in each one. Will tore out a check from one of them, locked the lockbox back up, and put it back into the footlocker. He got up and bluffed his way through as Nick came in the doorway through the curtain.

Using the logbook, Will and Lamarr forged his signature on the check, made out to the caterer for the expenses, and sent it off to them. Later on, Lamarr confessed what they had done to Vanderbilt, who laughed it off, and said he would have been happy to pay for it., but next time, just ask.

After the wedding, and a short honeymoon on a dude ranch on the Big Island, Will returned to the ship walking bowlegged, having never ridden horses before. This was, of course the occasion for much ribald humor at his expense. Meanwhile, the skipper ordered Will to get a canary for each of the Torpedo Rooms, as they were carrying a partial load of wakeless Mark 18 electric torpedoes, which generated hydrogen when they were recharging. They had also mounted a new 5 inch deck gun aft to match the one forward.

The crew gathered and headed off to their new patrol area, the Yellow Sea between Korea (called Chosen at that time, and a part of Japan since the last century), Manchuria (Manchukuo, a Japanese puppet-state), and occupied China. The Yellow Sea is pretty shallow throughout, being filled with sediment from the huge rivers that drain into it.

The Coelocanth poked around in the middle of her patrol area for several days without a sniff of a convoy. The Skipper, perusing the maps, tried to figure out where the huge amount of traffic which should be going through the area was hiding. Making a Strategy check, he decided the traffic was running up between the mainland and the chain of steep-sided islands off the southern and western corner of Chosen, north of Quelpart Island. The water was fairly deep there for the Yellow Sea, and he ran the Coelocanth up between two islands where any convoy would have to run straight along across her bow, silhouetted against the cliffs.

A couple of nights later, they struck paydirt. A small convoy of two big tankers, at 10,000 and 7500 tons, a smaller tanker of 3000 tons, a big cargo ship of 9000 tons, and an enormous whale factory of 16,000 tons; all escorted by a pair of corvettes. First came a corvette, ahead and to the right, then the whale factory and the biggest tanker, followed by the small tanker, then the cargo ship and the third tanker, with the other corvette taking up the rear.

The Skipper ordered two electric fish each fired at the lead corvette and the whale factory, with two Mark 14Cs fired at the big tanker after a wait to make sure the faster Mark 14s hit at about the same time as the slower electrics. After all fish were away, he ordered a turn to starboard to line up his aft tubes at the rear of the convoy. Then the lead corvette vanished in an explosion, with simultaneous multiple hits on the whale factory and the tanker following quickly. As the trailing escort picked up speed and swung out towards where the Coelocanth had to be, the skipper ordered two electrics fired down her throat, with a second pair fired at the third tanker.

The whale factory and leading tanker were on fire and heavily damaged, and were only able to make about three knots each. The trailing escort also went up in an explosion from the second torpedo. Then the trailing tanker exploded and went down in a rush. This left only the small tanker and the big cargo ship able to maneuver at any speed. They began booking it out of the trap as the Coelocanth turned to port. Mr. Montgomery made a terrific success on his combat reload, getting four tubes ready to fire before the captain needed them. The skipper put a torpedo into the cargo ship and a pair into the small tanker, with the tanker exploding and the cargo ship damaged.

The Skipper ordered the two five inch deck guns manned, with the aft deck gun under Mr. Montgomery shooting at the whale factory and the big tanker, and the fore deck gun under Mr. Vanderbilt aiming for the cargo ship. With some excellent gunnery, The three ships were polished off, giving the Coelocanth the rare distinction of a clean sweep - an entire convoy sunk.

Meantime, Tokyo Rose began mentioning the Coelocanth in her nightly broadcasts, starting a war between her and the skipper. More on that later.


No comments:

Post a Comment