Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Harm's Way: Pigboats Playtest Session 13 - The Clusterf*ck

Sometimes something so wrong will be soooo right!

The session started with the four boats of the wolfpack beating feet out of Osaka harbor. Commander Jerkin radioed all boats to head south around Shikoku and Kyushu to get to Nagasaki. It would be a three day journey.

The next night, as they were on the surface, all four boats picked up a plane flying at the edge of the SD RADAR's range, about 6-7 miles out, dogging the pack. The commanders of the four subs were discussing this over the radio, when Cmdr. Hunt of the Remora figured they were probably eavesdropping on the sub's radio chatter. He said to Jerkin "Well the target is Oita, up to the left of the passage into the inland sea, right Commander Jerkin? Right sir?" Silence from Jerkin. "Isn't that totally correct, sir?"

Jerkin replied "Oh, uh, right! All boats, turn to starboard and head up towards Oita."

Now Hunt had meant for the Japanese plane to overhear that - which it did - and assumed Jerkin would go the other way. Jerkin didn't know how he could communicate this to the other subs without using the radio. He could have sent Morse code over the SONAR, but he decided instead to go up to the minefield across the strait and all a bullhorn conference.The subs headed into the strait and he called for the subs to gather together in front of the minefield. As they started to form a close square, the Signals officer of the Barracuda told Cmdr Montgomery that he thought he saw something fleeting and small on the scope, but couldn't tell what it was. unfortunately, Cmdr Montgomery didn't tell the others.

As they gathered and began shouting to each other in a square, the commander of the Japanese 2-man midget sub patrolling the minefield - the fleeting and small contact - couldn't believe his fortune. Here were four American subs, two overlapping two, in the most perfect close range shot he could dream of. He fired both his torpedoes, one at the leftmost sub, the other at the rightmost, and if they missed, they should definitely hit the ones behind.

The Commanders were interrupted by screams from their Signals Officers below - "Fish in the water! From starboard!" The men at the AA guns of the Seahorse and Remora, on the right hand side of the huddle, fired at the torpedoes lancing toward them, and blew both just before they hit. The explosion rocked all four subs severely to the left, throwing the XO Joe Lewis from the Seahorse's bridge; all three officers, Cmdr Montgomery, XO Tom Wiggins, and Weapons Officer Alan Peterson along with three of the four lookouts from the Barracuda's bridge; Cmdr Hunt, XO Howard, and all four lookouts from the Remora's bridge; and Cmdr Jerkin and three lookouts from the Clownfish's bridge.

In a flash, Cmdr Bullock on the Seahorse, whipped out the rope he always carried with him and lassoed Mr. Lewis, who had broken an arm and a leg in his fall, handing the line off the two of the lookouts. He ordered the other two into the rubber raft while he accelerated to starboard.

On the Barracuda, the only one left in the bridge was one lookout. He screamed "Man overboard! MEN Overboard! Hell! Everyone's overboard!" The Signals Officer called for the Engineering Officer to take command and for the ship to go forward full. He began running forward as the boat accelerated forward. Cmdr Montgomery LUCKily landed on a nearby dolphin, who allowed him to latch on. Wiggins was totally prepared for this - he was always prepared for everything - and splashed cleanly into the water, inflating his Mae West. Mr. Peterson had a rougher time, breaking his left arm and leg in the landing, but he managed to surface and dog paddle with one hand and leg.

Commander Hunt LUCKily latched onto the horns of a floating mine, as he couldn't swim a stroke, and shouted for rescue. On the Remora, XO Red Howard caught the rope rail broken off from the cigarette deck as he flew through the air, and climbed back aboard.

Cmdr Jerkin landed well and began swimming, looking for his men, but he could see nothing in the night.

All four Signals Officers informed their bridges - although no-one but a solitary lookout was on the Barracuda's bridge - that a large group of surface ships were coming up fast behind them. They had walked into the trap they had set themselves.

Red Howard ordered a shot strait back with the stern tubes, two each at two of the four old destroyers he saw speeding towards them in the aft TBT. He then ordered a right hand turn to follow the Seahorse. Two of the four torpedoes hit, sinking one ship, the other two going through the wreckage. Behind the four destroyers, a light cruiser opened fire with its six inch guns.

Bullock on the Seahorse ordered a difficult 90 degree shot from the stern tubes, sinking one destroyer and damaging another as they swerved to fire torpedoes at the American subs. Meanwhile the Quad Heavy AAs slammed into the midget sub, which sunk in a trail of bubbles, though no one was sure just what it was.

On the Clownfish, Mr. Vanderbilt ordered the deck gun to fire, sinking the damaged destroyer.

Cmdr Montgomery's Dolphin LUCKily went after the Barracuda, and caught up with her as she entered the minefield, dolphins being very fast. Cmdr Montgomery clawed his way up to the deck, panting with exertion as the Barracuda plowed into the minefield, not hitting ANYTHING through pure random chance.

Shots from the cruiser began splashing all around the Barracuda. LUCKily one banged off her hull, deflecting into the ocean. LUCKily another had a defect and curved past over the periscope shears. LUCKily, a third shot missed the Remora ahead, as the exploding destroyer under it knocked it upwards a bit. The PCs were just about out of LUCK...

The Seahorse was curving around, and loosed a salvo from its bow tubes at the last destroyer, which sank. The quad heavies shot two torpedoes out of the water. The five inch deck gun began shooting the cruiser, damaging it. The Remora also shot up torpedoes with its AA guns, and fired the front 5 inch deck gun and the rear 4 inch gun at the cruiser, hammering it and sinking it.

The Barracuda's Engineer finally got to the bridge, and panicked. He did manange to order some men aft to man the AA gun, but could not get any situational awareness of where the barracuda was and what she was doing. Cmdr Montgomery got to his feet, shouting "STOP THE BOAT! WE'RE IN A MINEFIELD!", then ran forward to the bridge. With incredible good fortune, the Barracuda still had not hit a mine. Cmdr Montgomery got to the bridge and ordered all full reverse, just in time to stop them from finally hitting one directly in their path.

The rubber boat had meanwhile picked up Hunt and Jerkin along with two lookouts. The Barracuda backed slowly the way she had come through the minefield and out. She picked up the rubber boat, and all left the area to go far out to sea, where the commanders finally got back to their boats.

This was a crazy, confusing clusterf*ck, and everyone enjoyed the hell out of it. It was one of our best gaming nights ever! the action set in right away, and never slacked off right to the end. Sometimes a screwup is the best thing that could have happened in a game!



  1. WOw, that sounds like so much nailbitting, and so much fun!

    1. Lord! It certainly was, Clydwich! It was teetering on the razor's edge of being a disaster, though they somehow managed to pull it out without one of the subs going kablam! But MAN was it fun! :D