Wednesday, January 11, 2012

in Harm's Way: Pigboats Playtest Session 11

Before the encounter with the convoy off the Korean coast, with the Coelocanth in the middle of the sea and seeing nothing, the Skipper had overheard Tokyo Rose mention the Coelocanth by name on her broadcast, saying that the boat was currently in the Yellow Sea. Being Commander Mardukas, he decided to play with her mind. He sent out a message to her - broadcast in the clear - saying he didn't care that she knew where he was, send along whatever she had and he'd handle it. Then he went to Korea, and sank the entire convoy.

Fresh off that, the Skipper broadcast again to Tokyo Rose, saying "Hey Rose! We just sank one of your convoys off the south coast of Chosen. Every single ship, including a big monster that was carrying enough oil to light japan for a month. Well? I'm waiting..."

With that, of course, he didn't hang around. At a conference with his officers, He proposed they head up the west coast of Chosen (Korea) a bit and hit the harbor of Mokpo - He had rolled a successful Strategy check, but with a poor quality. Lieutenant Wiggins, who had an excellent Strategy quality roll, said "Why don't we go over here to this big bay (puts finger on Qingdao on the chart) on the Shantung peninsula? This looks like it would be a great place to group together convoys." The Skipper said "That's a terrible idea, Wiggins..." He stroked his beard. "I've been thinking, we really ought to check out his big bay here on the Shantung Peninsula (puts finger on Qingdao on the chart) 'cause it looks like the perfect place to organize convoys."

After checking with his officers, he decided to send the XO, Lt. Cmdr Bullock, off on a special mission to climb Mt. Laoshan from the south, and spy out what was in Qingdao. Mr. Bullock took two seamen - informally played by other players - in with a rubber raft, while the boat stayed quiet and monitored traffic in and out of the port.

After landing at night on the shore to the east of Qingdao, Mr. Bullock and his men began the trek up the mountain when they came to a road, just as four Japanese trucks filled with soldiers roared around a curve right at them. The three men huddled in the brush at the side of the road as the trucks ran by, but one man on the last truck caught a glimpse of one of the men's faces and stopped just ahead. The soldiers piled out of the truck and began searching the brush. Mr. Bullock and one of the men pulled deeper into the brush, but the other climbed a tree. One of the soldiers spotted mud on a low branch of the tree and began shouting for assistance. The sailor in the tree began making hooting noises and threw mud from his shoes at them, then leaped from his tree to another. One of the soldiers said "That's a big fucking monkey!" and they climbed back into the truck and drove off.

They continued up the mountain, finding a lone stone hut at the top as it started to rain. They crashed in, guns in hand, but it turned out to be the hut of an ancient Chinese hermit. Mr. Bullock made friends with him with chocolate, and they were invited to stay in the hut out of the rain. Mt Laoshan is 1100+ meters high, so they were well up in the cloud, and couldn't see a thing of Qingdao until the rain stopped. one of the men - the one who pretended to be a monkey - was convinced the hermit was a secret martial arts master, but Mr. Bullock didn't buy it.

The rain burned off the next day, and Mr. Bullock - a master at observation - made a remarkably thorough and detailed chart of the big bay, showing gun emplacements, ships at anchor - the big bay was choked with ships, some of them huge, and the escorts - two fast frigates, and armed yacht, and two corvettes. he also charted the minefield at the bay's entrance by observing and logging the path taken by the patrol boats through it.

After leaving some chocolate with the hermit, they headed off down the mountain. They had just reached the secluded beach they had landed in, and were digging up the rubber raft, when they heard a Japanese patrol scrambling over the path above them. They dove doe the brush as six soldiers and an officer came down from the path. They had obviously heard the digging, adn could now see the partially uncovered raft. The officer detailed four men to search the brush, while two fixed their bayonets to slash up the raft. Mr. Bullock couldn't allow that, so a short but very intense firefight erupted. Afterward, mr. Bullock killed the wounded Japanese with his knife as the two men finished digging up the raft. Lamarr saved the officer, though he was badly wounded, and they met up with the Coelocanth at the rendezvous.

The Skipper went in to interview the Japanese officer, who was really bad off and being tended by the pharmacist's mate, Doc, and got him to talk some about the defenses around the harbor by telling him he would let him suicide if he talked. The Skipper set a knife down beside the man's bunk. He grabbed it and lunged at the skipper, and failing to hit, took his own life. The captain had originally planned to take the battery of eight inch guns at the mouth of the harbor, and use them to pop off the ships like fish in a barrel, but he realized there were too few men on the Coelocanth to do that based on the Japanese officer's information.

The Coelocanth snuck into the bay the next day submerged, ghosting past the corvette in the safe lane through the minefield by laying over next to the mines. The lane dog-legged several times before coming into the clear. The Coelocanth surveyed the mass of anchored ships in the bay, selecting the juiciest targets. The sub had ten mark 14Cs loaded - six forward and four aft, and four more reloads forward. The Skipper selected the two fast frigates to receive two fish each from the forward tubes, with one more each at a huge, 16,000 ton tanker, and a big troopship.The leftmost frigate was hit with one torpedo, damaging it, and the rightmost frigate was hit with to, sinking it.

The single torpedoes were not enough to sink the tanker or the troopship, and the Coelocanth swung about to shoot it's stern fish while Mr. Montgomery made an awesome combat reload check, reloading tubes 1-4 almost as soon as they were fired. The sub fired three torpedoes from the aft tubes, holding one in reserve, at the huge tanker and troopship. The tanker was hit with one torpedo, while a second missed - running erratically, and managed to hit and almost sink a small 3000 ton tanker by pure chance. The troopship was hit and sunk, while chaos erupted in the harbor.

While the Coelocanth was swinging around again to present her forward tubes to the enemy, Mr. Bullock, who was Attack Officer on the periscope - the Skipper sat this one out, watching his men get some experience in new roles - saw two torpedoes coming from the wounded frigate and managed to thread the needle between them. He fired one more torpedo at the frigate, one more at the big tanker, and two at a big cargo ship. All three sank as the slow corvette and converted yacht finally came up on the boat. The Coelocanth swung back into the minefield and tried to escape.

The corvette made its run first, shattering the water around the Coelocanth with six ashcans, which caused some fair damage before the sub made it past the first turn. After that the converted yacht made a run, inflicting more damage, but the Coelocanth was able to slip away around the next turn. There was the corvette they has slipped past to get into the harbor, this time alert and ready.

This corvettte played a different game. Getting a firm lock on the sub, she made run after run on the Coelocanth, dropping only a couple of depth charges on each run, and dinging the sub more and more. Finally, the skipper ordered her to run straight at the next turn, then rurn to starboard at the last second. The pursuing corvette overshot, and blew up in her own minefield. the sub surfaced and manned the guns, as she was down to one torpedo, with the other corvette and the converted yacht pursuing. Surfaced, she was faster than either, and could outrun them while fending off attacks with her 5 inch guns.

Once she was on the surface, though, the three shore batteries could get a much better shot at her. In a running gun battle, the Coelocanth sank the pursuing corvette with gunfire, while the yacht returned to the harbor to protect its charges. The Coelocant, though, was hit by an eight inch shell. This normally would have sunk her, but the quality of success was terrible, and the boat got away minus both its periscopes.

After a tough journey back - they couldn't use the periscopes when surfacing to see if anything was up there - they got back to Pearl. The Skipper was promoted to Captain - thus out of command of the boats and onto Admiral Lockwood's staff - while Mr. Bullock and Mr. Montgomery were given their own boats. Captain Mardukas also was awarded the Medal of Honor for the U-boat incident at Chichi-jima.

Next week Mr. Montgomery and Mr. Bullock join old friend Mr. Jerkin and another new commanding officer - played by the Skipper's player - in a four sub wolf pack. Each will also play the XO of another boat in a troupe style move. Lt. Commander Jerkin will be in command.


No comments:

Post a Comment