My players drove my campaign into an entirely different direction today, and had a blast. :) The PCs have been tapped by one of the few surviving Sidereal Exalts to hunt down a Sidereal Akuma ... one of the ones responsible for the utter destruction of the Five-Fold Fellowship (this is set during the Return of the Scarlet Empress). The PCs aren't entirely sure who asked for their help... the one PC who encountered the Sidereal didn't do too well on trying to remember the Sidereal in any detail (the Siddie in question, to conceal himself, decided to not use one of his disguises, in case the Akuma in question knew of it).
So, the PCs have the sigil for the Sidereal in question, and knows the guy's an Immaculate. They know he shows up in Lookshy about twice a year, and should be there in a few months. They're in Whitewall, and the journey's... long... by foot. I figured they'd hoof it, perhaps take a boat, and I can run a few encounters along the way to show them the state of Creation with the Scarlet Empress in charge.
Nope. Nothing doing. They decided they wanted to snag an airship and fly there. They're in the right(ish) region for it, and dropped in to visit the League to pay for the trip. I had the League advocate play nice, and after some RP she gave the PCs the means to head south to Wallport and pick up the ship the next day. This gave the PCs a bit over a night to relax in town and prepare for the morning trip.
Well, rather than fast-forward to the next day, the PCs decided to hit the dockside tavern. I had some mercenaries, merchants, and pirates there, and the PCs decided to hook up with two crew who were getting plastered and eying them. On the fly, I whipped up the captain, and the PCs learned he was a Dragon Blood from the far west (domain of water), acting as a privateer and sinking Realm ships as part of the current civil war. He mentioned how he exalted (during a storm created by a leviathan sort), and that the worst thing he encountered was an enemy ship captained by a horrific figure who glowed briliant green and caused the crew to explode when he struck them. I painted just how horrific this figure was, and how he laughed when the dragon blood sunk his ship.
So, there are Lintha in the tavern, and the PCs know the Lintha (demon blood) are looking for trouble. They decide to let the Lintha ambush them, and then defeated them soundly, capturing one. A short interrogation later (with the Lintha barely telling them anything), and they know which ship is the Lintha's. The huge one made of demon material, covered in teeth.
Note: I was going to just do this as an 'aside', letting the PCs relax in the bar, maybe get in a bar fight and soundly trash the group. I did not expect the PCs to walk the captain's crew back to his ship, or set up a counter-ambush, or to decide to go after the Lintha ship. Just... wow. So, I had to think fast and develop and lay out the groundwork for this little side-mission on the fly.
The PCs see a demoness bound to the front of the ship in agony, so free her. They then blow a hole in the side of the ship -- and finding out it leads into the slave hold, one frees the slaves inside immediately (using a Charm which allows her to hit every chain at once). This... proved a good thing. Meanwhile, one PC goes up on deck to attack the crew, only to come face to face with the Infernal Exalt.
I made the Infernal about the same power level as the PCs. Essence 4 (we have one Essence 4 and three Essence 3 PCs), with a handful of charms in the combat tree and scattered elsewhere (about 12 Charms total). Against the PC in question, he was terrifying. 10 attacks, almost no penalty to them, gets to attack first, and Perfect Dodge / Tick. Each time he stunts (does something cool), he inflicts unsoakable Lethal dice against one target.
So, the PC did everything she could to protect herself against the onslaught, and took a lot of 'ping' damage. The second PC came in (full stolen soulsteel body armour), and attacked, missing cleanly. The third PC came up, and combat continued. The Infernal was fast, always moving, and impossible to hit. He was ripping the motes off the PCs, causing them to constantly have to throw down charms to try to hurt / hit him, and protect themselves, and he was slowly replenishing essence just from hurting them.
I thought one of the PCs was getting frustrated (actually, he admitted the fight terrified him -- which was cool. He'd never seen an Infernal Exalt in action before). And he decided to do a desperation move. His character activated a 'cloaking' technique on her armour, so when he turned to look he couldn't see her. When he turned back she was in front of him and SLAMMED him with her tetsubo (a goremaul in all but name). The player tied on a surprise check with the Infernal -- which would have meant he lost... except he forgot to roll his bonus dice from stunting. This was enough to push him over the edge and catch the Infernal off-guard.
-- which was one of only two ways to prevent him from automagically dodging the attack.
SMUSH! Instant KO. The Infernal was down, and bleeding out. Then one of the other PCs kicked the Infernal hard enough to kill him.
I mentioned to the players after the Infernal was low on Essence by the end of the fight because of the freed slaves. They were bound to chains which would have allowed him to pull from their health to give him Essence, allowing him to unload a hell of a lot more Charms. That one PC freed the slaves cut off that benefit, making the Exalt much more manageable.
So, the PCs sunk the ship, helping to give the Dragon Blood captain peace at night (as he had nightmares of being hunted by this guy). It gave them a privateer as an ally, a good look at what fighting Infernal Exalts are like (since they'll need to do so again in the future), and paved the way for a few more adventures. They had a blast, which is always good, and next session we can get back to the actual campaign.
All in all, very good. :) I'm so glad I'm in the habit of being able to draw up fresh scenes and adventures off-the-cuff. :o
Anyway, hope you enjoyed!