Thursday, 28 December 2017

Yakuza 2019 - Actual Play Report #1: Amphetamine Logic

So it finally happened, what you've all been waiting for.  I finally sat down and played a roleplaying game in a capacity other than as a GM for the first time in three years!  We ran a modern-day Yakuza game using the Interlock System from Cyberpunk 2020.  You can read about how this came about and the character's stats by clicking here.  The GM who is running me through this campaign was the player in the Aki Campaign.  The first actual play report of which you can find here.  What follows is the events that transpired in the first session of our campaign.  Here goes.

Let the Good Times Roll

The avatar for my character Tae Joon-Ho.
A mid-level Yakuza amphetamine dealer.
So our game starts off in my character Tae Joon-Ho's apartment.  A single room apartment of about 4 and a half tatami mats.  His superior in the Akemi-gumi Takahiro Koizumi (who Joon-Ho calls Aniki or bro as a sign of respect) stops by to drop off this month's kilo of Adderall.  The two proceed to get drunk on convenience store beer and high as kites on amphetamines.  Joon-Ho's girlfriend Miu had to work at the cabaret that night so the two men had the apartment to themselves.   Takahiro took this opportunity to tell Joon-Ho some good news.  

"You work a little harder and you'll be upped in no time!  We'll be equals instead of me being your boss.  Mr. Yoshida is a friend of mine, he's as greedy as a cat, but that ain't a bad thing.  Keep doing what you're doing, and I'll put in a good word.  The two of us go way back."  

Looking like a dog that'd been being shown a stick to fetch Joon-Ho said.  "You mean it, Bro!  We're gonna be equals!" Enthusiasm was Joon-Ho's middle name.  

"In all but experience and age." said Takahiro laughing at his own joke.  "You're hardworking, you deserve it.  It won't come right away, but it'll happen.  I've told Mr. Yoshida about you, and once he meets you he's gonna see what you have.  No more of this low-level dealing for you, I'm talking the big jobs.  BIG money." 

Joon-Ho laughed in anticipation a big shit-eating grin spread across his face.  Raising his beer can in offering of a toast he said "Kampai!" to which Takahiro reciprocated, both of them downing their drinks.

The Hangover

Takahiro Koizumi, Joon-Ho's immediate
superior and best friend.  Unlike myself
my GM has chosen to use real life photos
for character portraits.  I actually quite
like the look of Takahiro's.
The celebration continued well into the night, despite being hopped up on amphetamines.  The two men somehow managed to get some sleep, passing out on the floor of the small apartment.  By the time they'd both woken up it was near-noon the next day.  Both of them had horrific hangovers, the cocktail hard drugs and alcohol creating a head splitting pain.  "Could you go get me some smokes, kid? ...I'm... no gonna be able to get up for a while..." Takahiro's voice was despondent.  Of the two of him he had come down the hardest from his high.  "This hangover is killing me..."  

"Sure thing, Bro." Joon-Ho was a little less enthusiastic than he had been last night.  He was pinching his forehead as a result of his own hangover, but he was faring a great deal better than Takahiro.  Joon-Ho left his boss and his apartment departing for the local corner store to buy cigarettes.  

Shuichi Takenaka 

As Joon-Ho walked to the local corner store, he passed a bar that he did business out of.  Outside was Shuichi Takenaka a dealer from the Izumi-gumi that Joon-Ho knew because they shared the same profession but otherwise knew very little about.  Shuichi was talking to someone giving what sounded like a sales pitch "Right now, the cost is lower, but who knows what it'll be like tomorrow.  It's a vulnerable market after all."  Son of a bitch!  He was selling amphetamines on Joon-Ho's turf.  (How dare you sell drugs in this neighbourhood!  That's my job!) 

Shuichi was connected with the Izumi-gumi a younger, smaller and less prestigious group than Joon-Ho's own organization the Akemi-gumi.  (That was all the information that the GM would offer me without a Streetwise roll.  I told her it'd be more in character for Joon-Ho to act without knowing all the facts).  As a loyal member of the Akemi-gumi, Joon-Ho couldn't let small-fry like this piss all over their turf!  He started approaching the rival dealer, making himself appear non-threatening.  Acting like he was just a guy running into an old friend outside a bar.  "Mr. Takenaka of the Izumi-gumi, right?"  Before Shuichi could say anything in response, Joon-Ho caught him square in the face.  With a Tae Kwon Do punch so powerful that it knocked the dealer to the ground unconscious.  He turned to the customer that had been trying to buy from Shuichi.  "Something wrong pal?" like he was asking a stranger about their car troubles.  Which was very intimidating considering that he'd just knocked out a man without any apparent provocation.  (As a side note the GM was not expecting me to go this route, apparently I derailed quite a bit by doing this.  I stand by it as doing what anyone would have done if they caught a rival dealer red-handed selling on their turf).  

"S-s-s-sorry sir." Shuichi's frightened customer turned tail and ran.  Dropping his wallet which he had had out to pay for Shuichi's product.  The frightened man ran back to collect the wallet in a clumsy sort of way.  Then ran away again, never looking back at Joon-Ho.  Who was content to let him go, a guy who scared that easily wasn't about to go running to the cops.  He picked up the unconscious Shuichi trying to pass it off as someone helping a drunk guy walk home.  He discovered about a half-kilo of amphetamines on Shuichi which Joon-Ho stuffed back in the rival dealer's inner pocket.  Shuichi would have a lot of explaining to do, once they got back to Joon-Ho's apartment.  Where Joon-Ho planned to interrogate the Izumi Yakuza along with Takahiro.

The Body

When Joon-Ho got to his apartment the door was unlocked, Takahiro must have left.  It didn't matter Joon-Ho was certain that Takahiro would come running back.  Once he got a call about Shuichi dealing on their Akemi turf, Takahiro would want some answers.  Joon-Ho opened the door dragging the unconscious rival dealer into the apartment and that is when he saw it.  

Takahiro was lying on the floor, covered in blood.  A revolver, similar to the one that Joon-Ho kept in the Apartment's AC unit was in his hand.  It didn't make sense!  A lot of users became depressed after they came down, but they usually didn't kill themselves if they had a supply at hand.  There was a whole kilo of Adderall in the AC unit along with the Smith and Wesson!  Unceremoniously dropping the unconscious Shuichi to the apartment floor, Joon-Ho ran over to Takahiro's body.  "Fuck!  Bro, Bro!" he yelled at the unmoving form on his apartment floor, shaking Takahiro and checking for a pulse.  He found none.  His mind went blank, how had this happened?  He checked his dead superior's jacket pockets (I figured it'd be kind of awkward to reach into the pants pockets), finding some business cards, a pack of smokes with one remaining cigarette and about two doses of Adderall.

There was nothing he could do to help his friend, and Joon-Ho was beginning to fear the worst.  He went over to the apartment's AC pulling off the panel and looking inside.  The entire kilo that Takahiro had delivered last night was gone!  So was Joon-Ho's Smith & Wesson, he could no longer deny it.  His best friend was lying dead in his apartment killed by his own gun!  A rage at the helplessness he felt boiled up inside Joon-Ho prompting his to punch the wall in frustration.  "Motherfucker!" the pain of his hand breaking (the GM said that punching a wall required 1d10 damage, of which I took 5.  I didn't change my decision to punch the wall since it seemed like a really in character thing to do) was nothing compared to the anger he felt right now!  He turned around to survey the mess he'd gotten himself into, the door was wide open and heard someone running down the metal stairs outside his apartment!  He glanced near the doorway where he'd left Shuichi he was gone!

Joon-Ho wasted no time, running out his the door of his apartment like a bat out of hell.  Hurtling down the metal staircase in pursuit of the fleeing Yakuza.  It was too late.  As he came to the bottom of the stairs, Shuichi was nowhere to be seen.  Joon-Ho decided to give up his pursuit of the rival dealer for now.  He'd get his if it was the last thing that Joon-Ho ever did.  For now there was a more pressing matter of body and a gun that needed disposing of.  (I failed my Athletics check to pursue Shuichi, so I couldn't interrogate him.  I figured it was a better idea to get rid of the evidence thank you Dogtown Felon's Handbook by Johnathan Ridd).

Cleaning the Mess

Joon-Ho climbed the stairs back to his apartment.  Once inside he grabbed some tissues and carefully extracted the revolver out of Takahiro's hand.  Careful not to get any fingerprints on it.  After that it was a walk down to the local river to dump the piece.  (I was incredibly nervous about Joon-Ho getting caught with the gun on his person.  By like a police stop and search or something, the firearm possession laws are pretty strict in Japan.  I was expecting the GM to take advantage of that fact, thankfully she didn't).  Wrapped in enough tissues to last a man a lifetime the gun sank to the bottom of the river, while a few of the tissues floated before sinking.  Satisfied that the murder weapon would never again see the light of day, Joon-Ho set out in search of a payphone.

When he finally found one he dropped one hundred Yen into it.  Enough to pay for a ten minute phone call, long enough to explain the situation, but not so long that he'd be exposed longer than he'd have to be.  That's when the withdrawal from the amphetamines hit him.  (The GM was using a drug system of her own design which I was very impressed by.  I wasn't expecting her to be implementing house rules this early in her career as a GM.  But hey, more power to her).  Joon-Ho was losing his shit.  He had no idea who had killed his friend.  It could have been that bastard Shuichi, it could have been his girlfriend Miu it could have been the people he was about to call.  For all he knew he could have killed Takahiro himself while high and not have realized it!  He glanced furiously around the phone-booth, even the people walking outside on the street could be suspects.  

Marv from Frank Miller's Sin City, the above quote from him pretty much sums up Joon-Ho's and my own thought process
at this point. 

He popped a dose of Adderall, he did not need to be dealing with withdrawal right now.  (I figured if I was in Joon-Ho's position I'd start popping pills too).  Gulping down the pills he tapped impatiently on the phone box, waiting for the call to connect.  The gun he could take care of on his own, to get Takahiro's body out of his apartment, he'd need to call in some help.  Right now he was trying to get in touch of Mr. Yoshida Goro, the one man who Joon-Ho could call when everything was fucked up.  Ordinarily it'd be Takahiro that he'd call, but Takahiro was dead and part of the Joon-Ho's current problem.  The phone clicked as he connected with the Yoshida's office.  A woman answered on the other end of the line Yoshida's secretary "Hello, Yoshida office, may I ask who's calling?"

A Japanese payphone not unlike the one that Joon-Ho made
his call to the Yoshida office from.
"Tae Joon-Ho, I work for Mr. Koizumi, I need to speak with Mr. Yoshida." Joon-Ho was trying his best to mind his manners under the stress.  
"If you want to speak to Mr. Yoshida, you'll have to set up an appointment and come down in person." replied the Secretary trying her best to be helpful and failing.  
Joon-Ho took another opportunity to look around at his surroundings outside the phone booth.  He was feeling kind of exposed and vulnerable out in the open like this.  
"This is an emergency, I need to speak with Mr. Yoshida, now!" he wasn't shouting but his initial politeness was now gone.  
"Sorry, sir, but you'll have to come down in person.  I'm sure you understand how it is." the secretary on the other end was stilling maintaining her professionalism.  Even if Joon-Ho wasn't.  He was becoming more and more panicked with each delay to speaking with Mr. Yoshida.  
"I would, but I just came back to my apartment to find my Boss murdered!  You have to put Mr. Yoshida on the phone now!" 

There was a click on the other end of the line as the secretary hung up.  Realizing that his last life-line had just hung up on him, Joon-Ho lost what little of his cool was left.  He started slamming the receiver agains the phone (Robert deNiro in Goodfellas when he finds out Joe Pesci's been murdered style) cursing at the voice that was no longer on the other end.  "Motherfucker!  Son of a Bitch!  Fucking bastard!"      


Overall it was a great first session, I was kind of disappointed that Takahiro was killed so early on.  His death did serve as the impetus for a lot of the action of this session.  So I forgive my GM for killing off one of the friends that I rolled for Joon-Ho's Lifepath.  She didn't pull any punches starting right off by taking away the two pieces of gear that were (in my opinion) most important the character.  His stash of drugs and his piece.  Not to be vindictive but to propel the story forward.  Which I personally think is the mark of a great GM, not bad for her first time.  Considering I did something similar when we ran the Aki campaign.  For those of you that haven't read that actual play report.  In short I kidnapped the player's girlfriend/dependent in the first session.  We ended the session with Joon-Ho still in the phone booth wondering how the hell he was going to get out of this one.  Which was a great place to end it really, the plan is to pick up again on this upcoming Wednesday.  Until next time have a good day and may you roll many crits.  If you liked this actual play report be sure to +1, comment below and follow this blog.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Hunters: U-69 - Second & Third Patrols: December 1940 & February 1941

U-69's second Patrol probably looked a lot like this,
sitting around waiting to run into some action.
That never really came.
My second actual play report of The Hunters: 
German U-Boats at War 1939-1943.  You can find the first one here.  Without further ado let's dive right in.

The Second Patrol

U-69's second patrol was by and large uneventful with no large ships sunk.  The U-Boat had been assigned the task of dropping off an Abwehr (German Intelligence for those of you not in the know) agent off the shore of Ireland.  Before continuing with their primary mission of sinking Allied shipping around the British Isles.  Other than having to crash dive to avoid an anti-submarine plane on their first attempt to put the agent ashore.  The mission was largely a success.  The actual sinking of ships left something to be desired consisting of two small freighters.  The Bassano weighing in at 4800 tons and the destroyer escorted Soloy weighing in at 4400 tons.  U-69 sank the Bassano at close range using the boat's deck-gun.  While the Soloy was sunk in a submerged night-time approach, using all four of the forward torpedoes.  (Both Kapitan-leutnant Fechner and myself the player have a policy of not returning to port with Torpedoes, which we haven't been successful in upholding due to a lack of targets).  The Soloy's escort was thrown into disarray after their charge was sunk.  Allowing U-69 to slip away undetected.  The boat then docked back in Brest for refitting. A total of 9200 tons sunk on its second patrol, bringing its overall total up to 20,000 tons.  Just two patrols and Kommandant Fechner is a fifth of the way towards earning himself a Knight's Cross.

February 1941 - Third Patrol

Once U-69's refitting was finished in February the boat once again departed from Brest.  Returning to its favoured hunting grounds of the British Isles.  The voyage from the Bay of Biscay to the North Channel was safe and uneventful.  The action started when the watch spotted a convoy coming right towards the boat, not that far out from Belfast!  Kapitan-leutant Fechner quickly gave the order to dive to avoid detection in broad daylight.  Then ordered a submerged approach towards the convoy.  They came upon two small freighters the Thorstrand at 3000 tons, and the Dalcroy at 4600 tons.  There was also the large freighter Bronte at 5300 tons and the tanker Casanare weighing 5400 tons.  Ignoring the two small freighters, Fechner gave the order to fire on the larger Bronte and the tanker Casanare.  Two torpedoes from the forward tubes apiece.  Both salvos hit their marks, doing just enough damage to sink the two ships.  The escorts taken completely by surprise were unable to locate U-69.

The aftermath of U-69's first attack on the convoy.
Kapit√§nleutnant Fechner gave the order to continue following the convoy.  Who knew if they'd have another opportunity to use their torpedoes for the rest of the patrol.  He had prey within his sights and he intended to sink as much of the convoy as he could.  Approaching the British ships from another direction he ordered the boat to surface within their midst.  Once again the officers scrambled out the hatch of U-69 and into the conning tower.  Examining their surroundings through their binoculars, scanning for the right target.  Behind them was small freighter The Royal Sceptre weighing 4800 tons.  To their bow there were another two small freighters the Scoresby at 3800 tons and the Tweed at 2700 tons.  The juiciest prize however was the tanker Havbor weighing in at 7600 tons.  To date the largest ship that U-69 had ever encountered.  Fechner made his decision in no time at all, the forward torpedoes would all be fired at the Havbor.  He wanted to sink that tanker no matter what!  Meanwhile the aft torpedo would be fired at the Royal Sceptre.  Why settle for sinking one ship when he had an opportunity to sink two!  They hit Havbor no problem (with such a large target how could they miss?) but they didn't sink her.  She was smoking, damaged and on fire in some places but she was still mobile, if somewhat slowed.  The aft torpedo failed to make contact with the Royal Sceptre. A disappointment, but Kapitanleutnant Fechner shrugged it off.  The Sceptre was small potatoes it was the Havbor he wanted!

Miraculously U-69 managed to remain undetected by the convoy's destroyer escort.  They continued to follow the limping Havbor and surfaced later that same night.  Coming up in front of the tanker and firing another torpedo at close range!  It was the straw that broke the camel's back as the Havbor went up in flames and began to sink below the surface.  Of course there were consequences to U-69's finishing blow on the Havbor as for the first time in the boat's illustrious career.  They were detected by escorting destroyers!  While the depth charge barrage proved to be short, for the crew it seemed like an eternity.  Before they were able to escape the destroyers.  At which point Fechner called off pursuit of the convoy, they were down to their last four torpedoes.  They'd already used ten on this one convoy and who knew if they'd run into another.  The escort had already detected them and might do it again.  Best to use the better part of valour, Fechner was a daring commander, but he wasn't suicidal!

Alarm! Enemy Aircraft!

A B-24 attacks U-69, ignore the US markings the one that
attacked U-69 was most definitely a RAF plane.
The crew of U-69 quickly found their next target in the form of the small freighter Thirlby.  Weighing in at 4900, they came upon her in broad daylight.  Kapitanleutnant ordered the deck-gun to fire on her at close range, their first volley of shells going wide.  Their second volley connected with the freighter, though not doing enough damage to the ship to sink her.  Fechner ordered the deck-gun's crew to reload for a finishing salvo, when out of nowhere there came the droning of airplane propellers!  There was no time to crash dive!  U-69's Kommandant yelled at his Second Watch Officer to get the Flak crew into position.  It was a decision that would haunt him for the rest of his days.  The plane dropped it's cargo of bombs, Fechner ducked his head behind the conning tower!  Seawater sprayed up from where the payload landed and then was a loud sound like thunder at close range!  Fechner was just turning to order the Flak-gun to fire on the aircraft.  When he saw them blow to pieces, men went flying into the sea!  Some barely recognizable as the shrapnel turned them into hamburger!  

The Kommandant screamed "Everyone below deck, move it, dive, dive!" The Second Watch Officer protested "We have wounded!"
"They're dead!  If you don't want to join them, get below deck now!" retorted Fechner as he pushed his protesting subordinate towards the hatch.  The pair of them jumped down, there was no time for climbing.  Fechner barely fastened the hatch behind him and ordered the helmsman to dive as fast as he could.  He quickly checked himself for wounds, there was some distance between himself and the Flak-gun when the bomb dropped.  He had to be sure though, he sighed in relief when he found himself unharmed.  Then came the guilt.  The whole thing stank of cowardice, eight (in game terms it was more like ten) of his men were dead.  And what had he done?  He'd run with his tail between his legs without even giving them a proper burial at sea.  Without a sunken freighter to offer their souls as a justification for their deaths.  He could feel the Second Watch Officer's eyes on him.  The lower-ranked man thought Fechner a coward and Fechner knew he was right.

When they resurfaced to check the damage the Lead Engineer told Fechner that the Flak-gun was inoperable and unrepairable.  Something that Fechner could tell just by looking.  He should have aborted the mission then and there without a Flak-gun they were sitting ducks.  Waiting to be ambushed by the next Allied plane that came along.  He couldn't make peace with himself though.  He couldn't go home without sinking another ship to make up for the Flak-crew's deaths.  He gave some speech about honouring their deaths as justification to his crew.  The words felt as hollow to him as they probably did to the crew, but they followed his orders regardless.  The search for new targets proved fruitless, he only found himself scanning the skies whenever he came above deck.  More frightened of another plane than he was of British Destroyers.  U-69 pulled back into Brest, based on the numbers it was a victory to the men it was a sobering defeat.  One that they smoked their first after-patrol cigarette and drank their beer to forget.  In another two months the boat would be refitted and they would have to go back on patrol.

The Wall of the Fallen

I decided to do a little collection of ships sunk by U-69 this game.  (Where I could find photographs). The Soloy was especially difficult to track down a photo of.
The Norwegian M/S
Soloy after the Bassano
in December 1940.

The British SS Bassano sunk by
U-69 in December of 1940.
The British Tanker SS Casanare sunk
by U-69 in February of 1941. 


The Norwegian Tanker M/S Havbor
part of the same convoy as the Casanare
and the Bronte.  Sunk the following night.

The British SS Bronte sunk by U-69
the same night as the Casanare.


U-69's second patrol was largely straightforward with nothing incredibly exciting happening in retrospect.  (Don't get me wrong I was still sweating bullets whenever I rolled a Escort's detection roll or to see if a torpedo hit).  Things really got really exciting on the third patrol though.  I rolled a convoy result straight off the bat and a particularly juicy one at that.  Starting off with the a Large Freighter and a Tanker.  Then another Tanker when I decided to continue following the convoy!  (I like to think of it as making up for failing to sink the Lincoln Ellsworth last session).  I'm honestly amazed that my luck has held out for this long, usually when I play Roleplaying or any other type of game.  I get such lousy rolls, not with the Hunters though, it's been nothing but success after success.  (Except when for a few rolls to hit or to determine duds here or there).  The first taste of U-69's mortality came when I was detected by the Havbor's escort after sinking it.  I really thought it was game over then.
Roughly the emotional breakdown I had when U-69 was
nearly sunk by depth-charging and later that plane.

It was even worse when we were attacked while trying to sink the Thirlby.  The whole time I was hoping against hope that I wouldn't roll Kommandant when damage indicated a crew hit.  The game would have automatically ended if that were the case.  I was so glad when it turned out to be just generic crew.  (I had three more to spare).  Unlike Kapitan-Leutnant Fechner who appears to be incredibly haunted by the deaths of his men.  I've mentioned it before but I really love how The Hunters forces you to mentally make up a narrative as you play it.  The damage to the Flak-gun and the KIA Crew were just perfect.  You couldn't have written a better story.  So now the boat has made port in Brest safely (for the most part) for the third time in its career.  With a total of 38,300 tonnage sunk to its name, U-69 has been very prolific in its short time at sea.  Since this was the third patrol the Crew also gets promoted to Veteran status.  Which makes sense since they've engaged two convoys, sunk a number of ships, escaped depth charging and an air attack on their boat.  They're no longer the fresh-faced boys that left on their first patrol five months ago.  They're the bearded Wolves of the depths that Royal Navy sailors live in fear of!  

So there's my actual-play report of my second and third sessions of The Hunters.  So far the game has been very exciting and a lot of fun.  I definitely see this having a lot of replay value as you never really know what's going to happen next.  Until next time be sure to +1, comment and follow this blog.  As always may the dice be ever in your favour and have a nice day.

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Hunters: U-69 - First Patrol: October 1940

The cover of the The Hunters Rulebook.
So this isn't really a Roleplaying Game like a usually play.  I only really discovered The Hunters yesterday and decided to run a game of it since my Cyberpunk 2020 Yakuza game got called off last minute.  For those of you that don't know The Hunters is a solitaire Wargame of U-Boat warfare from 1939 to 1943.  Where the player takes on the role of a German U-Boat commander.  The objective is to sink as much tonnage of Allied shipping as possible.  If any of what I just said appeals to you, you can read more about the game by pressing the following link.  I you have a problem with playing Germans there is also a sister game called Silent Victory, where you play American Submariners in the Pacific.  So I ran myself through the maiden voyage of a Type VII C U-Boat and honestly had quite a bit of fun.  I decided to write up something resembling an actual play report in narrative form.

October 1st, 1940 - Brest France

Our story begins at the U-Boat Pen at Brest, where the newly promoted Kapitan-leutnant Josef Fechner.  (When you first start a game of The Hunters you are required to choose a Boat Model.  Give it a name and then name it's Kommandant.  I chose the name Fechner because it was a nice simple name that I could pronounce and because it sounds like a familiar four-letter word).  Has been given command of a brand new Type VII C U-Boat, number U-69 by the Kriegsmarine.  (I chose U-69 because who wouldn't?)  Which the crew has wasted no time in graffitiing with the German phrase "Er kann mich im Arsche lecken!" directed at their British enemies.  After cutting his teeth as a First Watch Officer aboard a Typer VII A, Kaleun Fechner eagerly awaits his first assignment as a U-Boat commander is his own right.  So much so that the night before departure he buys his entire crew a round in celebration at the local cabaret!

The U-Boat Pens at Brest, not built until 1941.  But we'll
ignore that fact for the sake of the narrative.
The crew's high spirits are somewhat dampened by their assignment however.  While they'll still be taking the fight to Tommies around the British Isles, they'll be doing it with a lot less torpedoes.  As their forward and aft torpedo tubes have initially been loaded with mines.  U-69 must deliver the mines before continuing on their main mission of sinking Allied ships.  A mission that neither the crew or their Kommandant relish.  Kapitan-leutnant Fechner was so against the mine-laying mission that he tried to petition up the chain of command to get U-69 reassigned.  The U-Bootwaffe command is having none of it though.  So our intrepid commander has to settle for the lesser load of torpedoes.  You can't rack up any tonnage to the boat's name with mines.  (Since you're not around to see if they sink any ships).  So their morale still high even if they're less than enthusiastic about their mission, U-69 sets out from Brest.

First Leg of the Journey

The trip to the British Isles is uneventful (and safe) as U-69 runs into no Allied Anti-Sub planes.  They also don't run into any lone ships, much to the disappointment of the crew.  Even with their torpedo tubes carrying mines, they could still sink a ship on its own with the 8.8 cm deck-gun.  Alas the Second Watch-Officer and his crew of deck-gunners have to go without the target practice.  U-69 sails into the Irish Sea unopposed and drops its load of mines.  In a position in the centre of a triangle between the Irish ports of Dublin and Belfast, and the English ports of Liverpool and Manchester.  Having completed their unwelcome mission U-69 makes way through the North Channel.  From their heading a ways out into the Atlantic off the Northwestern coast of Ireland.  Kapitan-leutnant is eager to make up for lost time and find a British convoy to sink.  U-69 spends some time patrolling this Northwestern approach to Ireland, before finding their quarry a British Convoy headed right for them!

The Convoy

Upon the Night-time sighting of the Convoy, Kapitan-leutnant Fechner ordered the boat to dive.  He planned to get in the middle of the Convoy itself and then resurface.  Upon surfacing he would order the firing of all torpedo tubes, both forward and aft.  (All of this was a very dangerous way of going about things.  Attacking at Close Range in The Hunters means that an Escort has chance to detect you before you can even take a single shot.  Firing from both Bow and Aft tubes also made it more likely that the Escort will detect you after you fire.  While making a Night Surface Attack means that they're  more likely to damage your U-Boat in the first round of depth-charging.  All of this was balanced out by making it easier to hit ships with a larger amount of tonnage).  U-69 slipped in among the ships of the convoy and brought itself up to periscope depth.  Absolutely sure that the coast was clear, Fechner gave the order to surface.  Before climbing out the hatch into the boat's conning tower.  The other officers right at his heels, eager to pick out their prize.  

Probably what it looked like ordering the attack on the
Sarita, Lincoln Ellsworth and the Manuela.
Looking through his binoculars Fechner scanned the horizon.  To their bow were two fat tankers, both over 5000 tons if not 6000 tons.  (The Sarita and the Lincoln Ellsworth, 5800 tons and 5600 tons respectively).  To their aft were two smaller freighters 5000 tons and below.  (The Manuela at 5000 tons and the Leonidas M at 4600 tons).  He gave the order torpedoes 1&2 at the Sarita, torpedoes 3&4 at the Lincoln Ellsworth and the aft torpedo was to be fired at the Manuela.  All officers except himself and the First Watch Officer were to go below deck.  First the forward tubes would be fired while the aft would be fired at the last minute before they dove to make their escape. Fechner watched eagerly as the forward torpedoes raced towards their respective targets.  The tanker Sarita was the first to go, bursting into a brilliant orange flame.  As a torpedo struck its side, Fechner theorized that the explosion had set the Sarita's cargo of oil ablaze!  By comparison the Sarita's sister tanker's hit was less impressive.  U-69 had damaged her of that Fechner was sure.  To what extent?  He couldn't say.  The attack on the Manuela was a hurried one as Fechner didn't want to stick around long enough, for the destroyers to figure what had happened.  U-69 dove after firing their last loaded torpedo, rushing to get out of the midst of the convoy.  

The Follow-Up Attack

After waiting a couple hours Fechner ordered the boat back up to periscope depth.  He couldn't believe their luck so far!  The destroyers had been taken completely by surprise and hadn't even come close to finding U-69.  Clearly the Escort hadn't been expecting such a bold and daring attack right in their midst.  As he scanned the horizon he could see the Lincoln Ellsworth limping from the damage their torpedo had done.  Kapitan-leutnant Fechner was less than pleased to see that their aft torpedo had not connected with its target of the Manuela.  He gave the order to load the last four torpedoes aboard the boat.  The Lincoln Ellsworth was damaged and Fechner intended to finish the job!  Another opportunity like this might never present itself.  He gave the order to follow the convoy at a distance, hoping that the escort would abandon the damaged Tanker.  They followed the convoy as the sun came up as the day passed and as a new night fell.  In hopes that the convoy would leave the Lincoln Ellsworth to it's fate.  No such luck.

The destroyers and the small freighters had slowed their speed, to keep pace with the wounded ship.  Like a herd of cattle staying with a pregnant cow, while a wolf nips at their heels.  There would be no surfacing to break the Lincoln Ellsworth's back with the deck-gun.  While he would have liked to save torpedoes, U-69's Kommandant drooled at the prospect of a second shot at multiple targets.  This time it would be a submerged approach at close range.  (The boat only had G7e Electric torpedoes left, which were harder to land a hit with at medium and long range.  I wanted to hedge my bets to actually land a hit on my targets).  They couldn't make a surface attack in the midst of the enemy's ranks again.  The destroyers would be on the lookout for such a maneuver.  They didn't have a torpedo to fire from the aft tube anyways.  They approached undetected by the escort.  Torpedoes 1&2 would be aimed at the Lincoln Ellsworth, while Torpedoes 3&4 would target the Manuela.  Fechner was a little miffed about their aft torpedo missing the small Freighter on their first approach.  He also didn't want to put all his eggs in one basket, why sink one ship when he could sink two?  The torpedoes fired on the Lincoln Ellsworth didn't go off, either they missed or were duds.  (I hit the tanker I just ended up rolling a Dud on both torpedoes).  While at least one of the torpedoes aimed at the Manuela connected putting a hole in the small freighter.  Which Fechner knew from his experience as a First Watch Officer, would sink a freighter of that size eventually.  (I rolled a miss with the first torpedo and hit with the second).  

The Voyage Home

Fechner decided to cut his losses and run.  There were no more torpedoes and the British Destroyers weren't going to abandon the Lincoln Ellsworth after losing a second ship.  So he gave the order to break contact with the convoy, somewhat bitter that he'd sunk the small-fry freighter rather than his original target, of the fat oil tanker.  That prize, it seemed was a luxury that he'd have to forgo.  (That didn't mean he had to be happy about it though).  He was angry the entire voyage home, venting most of his frustration by berating his hapless First Watch Officer.  Blaming him and the torpedo crew for the failed sinking of the Lincoln Ellsworth.  The crew learned to live somewhat in fear of their Kommandant's temper that voyage.  His mood only soured further when off the southern Irish Coast towards Cornwall, they came upon a single-ship escorted by Destroyers.  This time the targets of his wrath were high command, for saddling him with a Mine-laying mission. that deprived him of the torpedoes necessary to make an attack on the escorted ship.  If the destroyers hadn't been there he could have attacked the ship with the deck-gun.  With the bitter taste of defeat in his mouth, he gave the order to let the ship go.  The words were like poison in his mouth, as U-69 slinked back to Brest with their tails between their legs.  Fechner took to throwing his coffee mug, pencils and whatever else seemed like it'd withstand the throw.  Whenever they received word of another boat's successful patrol over the radio.

Due to the patrol not being a complete failure, (they managed to sink two ships, in one patrol) Fechner kept his initial promise upon leaving Brest.  Of buying a round at the local cabaret for the whole crew.  He drank his beer in silent fury as he waited for their boat to be refitted.  A task that wouldn't be complete until December, at which point he'd make up for what he viewed as a sub-standard (no pun intended) patrol on his part.

The Norwegian Tanker Sarita.
Formerly the British Melania, sunk
by U-69 off the North West coast of
The American Manuela, sunk by U-69
the night after it sank the Sarita.


I had a lot fun playing The Hunters.  One thing I found myself doing while playing was making up a narrative about the random encounters rolled.  Making up something of a personality for the boat's Kommandant and what his reactions to certain events would be.  I was playing with a very aggressive (and perhaps not that smart) style of play, which involved taking a lot of risks.  In exchange for a lot of payoff in the form of bigger ships and a better chance of hitting them.  I decided that the Kommandant of U-69 should have a very gung-ho, aggressive personality to go along with this style of play.  Which led to him being something of a tyrant aboard his boat, when things didn't go the way he planned.  I think he's sort of what would happen if Niedermeyer from Animal House, tried to be A Father to His Men and kept failing at it.  10,800 tonnage on your first patrol is nothing to sneeze at.  Yet he couldn't just settle for it he wanted the Lincoln Ellsworth and couldn't get it.  (I really wanted to sink that tanker as well as the Manuela, 16,400 tons on U-69's first Patrol would've been awesome!)  A few more patrols like this one and Kapitan-leutnant Josef Fechner will earn himself a Knight's Cross by December of 1941.  As you can no doubt tell by my enthusiasm in writing The Hunters is intense.  I was sweating bullets whenever I rolled to see if the convoy's escort detected me.  I can't believe the amount of luck I had, if any of those rolls had failed I would've been a goner.  Anyways if you liked this post be sure to +1, comment and follow this Blog.  As always may the dice be ever in your favour and have a nice day.   

Thursday, 14 December 2017

When Hell Freezes Over - First Time Taking a Player's Role in Three Years

Now I've been interested in roleplaying a for about nine years now.  (I just turned 21 on December 13th).  About a third of that time was spent just familiarizing myself with the rules for D&D 4th Edition.  While another third of that time was spent playing with my regular D&D group in High School.  The remaining third was spent GMing various games for various short-lived groups.  Due to the fact that I'm the one most interested in Tabletop Roleplaying in my immediate area.  It often falls to me to fill the seat of Game Master.  A throne that sometimes becomes uncomfortable if sat on for too long.  What I'm talking about is GM burnout.  I've been running Mutants and Masterminds Single-Player game.  For the same player that I ran the Aki Cyberpunk 2020 Single-Player Campaign for.  Lately I'd been feeling uninspired, having to call off 3 to 4 different game sessions in as many weeks.  I finally decided to fess up and tell my player as such.  She did something that I never expected, she offered to run a campaign for me.  I used to think that the only time one of my players would assume the GM role, would be when Hell froze over.  (Given the type of weather up here in Canada it wouldn't surprise me if it has).

The Game

So of course I asked her what sort of game she wanted to run.  She asked what was a good system for beginner GMs.  What instantly sprang to mind was D&D, but that presented some problems.  As I'm not at all familiar with 5th Edition and despite my initial love for 4th Edition when I was 12.  It is unplayable.  I started thinking about what games had good generic systems.  Unfortunately I wasn't familiar enough with any of them at least not enough to coach a new GM through using them.  Finding myself up against a wall, I asked what sort of story she was thinking of running.  She said that she wanted to run a Battle Royale-esque game.  That's when it hit me.  Cyberpunk 2020, it was so simple just Stat + Skill + 1d10 = Success or Failure.  She was also already familiar with it.  So it was perfect.  We wasted no time and got right down to character creation a few hours later. 

Meet Tae Joon-Ho
We ended up rolling up Tae Joon-Ho an ethnic Korean and low-level Yakuza Amphetamine dealer.  His entire back story ended up coming out of Cyberpunk 2020's Lifepath System.  (The character kind of took on a life of it's own and the GM mentioned possibly changing the Battle Royale premise.  To have the story match the character rather than forcing the character to match the story).  

Some things you need to know about Joon-Ho.  He is all around friendly and charismatic guy (for a Yakuza anyway).  From a background full of poverty, saddled with a family debt.  He suffers from an Amphetamine addiction born from recreationally getting high on his own supply.  Has been accused of murder (of which he was acquitted a miracle in the Japanese legal system) and is overall something of a scumbag.  Which I personally think makes him a very interesting character to play.  You can find his character sheet here if you care to take a look.

This post is a little rough compared to my standard fare.  That's largely because I don't really know what the game is going to be about overall.  All I know is that we're going to be following this character the two of us created and that it's going to be set in Modern-Day Japan (rather than Cyberpunk Dystopic Japan).  I just thought I'd write a short post about it since I haven't written a post in quite some time.  As always be sure to +1, comment and follow.  Have a nice day and may you roll many crits.