Last night (Monday), our In Harm's Way: Pigboats session finally reached the special mission stage. The Pike was in Davao Gulf at sunrise, on Lifeguard station, with a prize - a sailing junk captured from the Japanese. The skipper figured to use the junk to help pick up airmen from the waters. The junk was given over to the XO, Lt. Vaugirard, along with Lt. jg Yoder and a five man crew. Both Vaugirard and Yoder were experts at small boat, and could conn the vessel under sail. There was a gasoline engine, small, ancient, and rusted, but no gasoline. They renamed the prize Pickerel, to go with Pike.
The carrier planes flew in from the southwest, and would return from the north, directly over the Pike. The Skipper sent the Pickerel north and west of the Pike, and had them place identification cloths on their deck, identical to those on the Pike. All was ready before the carrier planes returned.
Now rather than set this all up beforehand, or totally wing it, I set up an ad-hoc tool. Roll d100 - on a 20 or less, there would be a plane needing to ditch. If yes, roll a d6 for the number of planes. Pilots trying to ditch make an IQ check. On a failure, they ditch near the Pike, on a success, they ditch near the Pickerel. Make a StarPool Pilot check with a skill level of +2, vs a TN of 9. On 3 successes, the plane lands perfectly, all crew uninjured. On 2 successes, the landing was complicated - roll 1d20 for each crewman vs a TN of 13 - failure means an injury. on 1 success, the ditch was rough! Roll 1d20 for each crewman vs a TN of 9 - failure means an injury. On no successes, the plane crashed - flipping over or cartwheeling - with no survivors.
I had set up the raid itself beforehand - surprise was total, and opposition from the air was late, with the planes exiting in four groups - a group of Dauntless dive bombers, a group of Curtiss Helldivers, a group of Avenger torpeckers, and a group of Grumman Wildcats holding back the Zeroes, Oscars and Tonys from the bombers. This last group would be dogfighting in a snarl as it came over.
The first flight came over - the Dauntlesses - and the flaw in my plan became apparent. Statistically, the dice should cause planes from maybe one of the flights to ditch. No, of course not! Planes came down from every single flight! One Dauntless. Three Helldivers. Six Avengers, One Wildcat, and one Zero! And the pilot check rolls! Out of 28 crew in those planes, twelve lived. Finally, the Pike was chased down by Zeros, while the Pickerel sailed into the west to the rendezvous. The dice are laughing at me. Rolling on the table laughing their butts off.