Guide to the World of Exalted
Exalted’s Creation is a flat world, with an icy North; a hot, dry South; a wet, oceanic West; a deeply forested East; and a perfectly temperate Centre. At the edges, Creation gives way to the Wyld, a sea of mutable chaos, home to creatures called the Fair Folk that pre-date the existence of Creation, of laws of physics, of linear time itself; and desire nothing more than the removal of this blasphemous stability from the middle of their mutable world.
Gods in Exalted were created by the Primordials to oversee the minutiae of keeping Creation stable and working, performing roles such as ensuring that natural phenomena operated appropriately (eg that a river continually flowed from source to mouth). With the gods doing all the real work, the Primordials were free to act as they pleased in this sandbox they’d created, without care for the damage they might cause- and so they did, and for millennia, the gods performed their work dutifully. Eventually however, they grew resentful, and Autochthon, the Primordial known as the Great Maker, made known his own resentment at the way his siblings treated him, and proposed that he and the most powerful gods work together to overthrow them. Convincing Gaia, the Primordial most closely attached to Creation, not to interfere, the gods agreed, and together they created the Exalted, shards of great spiritual power that would attach to a mortal’s soul and enable them to wield the ambient essence of the world as a weapon. Thus the Unconquered Sun, Luna, the Five Maidens of Destiny, and the five primary souls of Gaia, each created their own Chosen: respectively, the Solars, leaders, law-givers and visionaries; the Lunars, stewards, rebels and shape-shifters; the Sidereals, viziers, ninjas and fate-shapers; and the Dragon-Blooded, foot-soldiers of inherited elemental power.
With the aid of Autochthon’s chosen race, the Mountain Folk, and the sun-worshipping then-overlords of humanity known as the Dragon Kings, and countless other races whose names are lost to time, the Exalted defeated the Primordials, killing those who wouldn’t surrender, and accepting the surrender of the others at the pleas of Gaia, imprisoning them in a prison fashioned from the still-living body of their leader. Those so imprisoned became the Yozis, their sub-souls demons, and their prison Malfeas a realm of bitterness and anger at their fall. Those who died became the Neverborn, creating the Underworld by their deaths and becoming the first ghosts- ones of phenomenal power, caught on the brink of Oblivion and desiring only to be consumed by it, even- or possibly especially- if that means bringing all of Creation down with them. With their dying breaths they laid a Great Curse on the Exalted, that their own virtue would be their undoing.
The gods took the Primordials’ heavenly city of Yu-Shan for their own, granting the Blessed Isle to the Exalted, and bestowing the Creation-Ruling Mandate on the Solars, granting them the right to rule the world. In Yu-Shan, over time, the Incarnae became horribly addicted to the Games of Divinity (rumoured to be the reason the Primordials made Creation- to be a place to play the Games in safety, and a way to power them), and have barely been seen since outside the Jade Pleasuredome except on important business.
The Solars ruled Creation well, providing every mortal with a decent standard of living, raising them up from their tribal existence under the Dragon-Kings to citizens of towns and cities and farming communities. As time went on, Autochthon noticed that there was something wrong with the way the Exalted occasionally went a bit crazy, and when the Solars demanded that he geas the Mountain Folk to ensure they never rose up against them, he saw the true extent of the danger. After ceding to their request to avoid a genocide he began to quietly plan his departure, and when all was ready, he left without warning, sealing himself in Elsewhere as Autochthonia, a spherical, mechanical world, and taking a viable human population with him.
Creation’s biggest empire is currently ruled by the Dragon-Blooded. They rule, as the Solars before them, from the Blessed Isle, the central continent; and the further into the threshold one travels, the further from their power one gets. The Dragon-Blooded promote an official religion, known as the Immaculate Order, which labels all other Exalted as Anathema, dangerous creatures possessed by demons who desire only ill for the world; and advocates accepting one’s place in life to better one’s chances of reincarnating into a better life next time. The Dragon-Blooded usurped the Solars when they seemed irrevocably insane, following a plan devised by the Sidereals (who hid their part in it so well that nobody now knows they exist).