Now that I've got some of you interested, let's start getting to some juicy, meaty details. Let's start off with the history and setting of Exalted!
I'll be honest, someone has done it better before me, and so I'm going to copy+paste my way to explanations!
'Here's a history of the setting of Exalted, which may answer a bunch of questions and put things into perspective all at once.
Once upon a time, in the formless twisting chaos of the Wyld, there appeared the Primordials. The Primordials are impossibly vast alien beings with multiple souls. Imagine if Cthulhu was the size of Asia and you could meet and hold conversations with his kidneys, which had separate identities, and you kinda get the idea.
“The formless chaos that spawned us sucks,” said the Primordials. “Let's build someplace cool to live, rather than hang out here!”
And so they did. They made Creation, and nailed it down the Elemental Poles of Earth, Air, Wood, Fire and Water.
“This place isn't going to maintain itself,” said the Primordials. “Let's make a bunch of servants to run the place for us! We'll give them intelligence, free will, and hopes and dreams, and then keep them as salves for eternity! It'll be great!” And so they made the gods. Some gods, such as the Unconquered Sun, Luna, and the Maidens, were build to be exceedingly cool an do lots; others were built to do stuff like make sure individual shrubs grew properly.
“Huzzah!” said the Primordials. “We have people to do the dirty work of running the place for us! Let's spend half our time playing the impossibly awesome Games of Divinity, and the other half running amok!” And so they did.
“This sucks,” said the gods, after moving the Elemental Pole of Fire back into place for 700th time after one of the Primordials went on a drinking binge and knocked it loose, causing untold thousands of deaths and nearly causing Creation to fall back into the Wyld. “We should kill those assholes and take their stuff.”
“Ha ha!” said the Primordials. “You can't kill us! When we built you, we programmed you so you could never attack us! Suck it, bitches!”
Making of the Exalted So the Unconquered Sun, who is the God of Awesome, came up with a plan. “Let's take those little mortals humans down there and give them incredible power. Then we can have them kill the Primordials, and then we can get at their Games of Divinity and play them ourselves!” So they developed Essence Shards, which are sort of like an additional component to the human soul that lets you do magic and super kung fu. Then they picked out the coolest people in Creation and instilled these Essence Chards in them.
“Are you planning on using those Exalted mortals to kill my asshole brothers and sister and take their stuff?” asked Autochthon, who was just about the only Primordial on the side of the gods, because most of the time it was his stuff that the other Primordials were breaking when they ran amok. Plus they made fun of him all the time.
“Um... no,” said the gods.
“Gee, that's too bad. I was gonna hook them up with ultimate weapons of Primordial-slaying destruction, but since you're not rebelling and all...”
“Oh, in that case, yes. Yes, we are.”
Meanwhile, Luna, goddess of the moon, managed to sweet-talk her Primordial hippy sugar mama Gaia into not fighting during the rebellion. “I'll do that thing with my tongue,” Luna promised.
“We have granted you the power to be totally awesome!” said the gods to their Exalted. “Now, go kill those Primordial assholes!”
“Aww, isn't that cute,” said the Primordials. “Those little humans think they can OH SHIT THEY'RE STABBING ME OW OW OW!” Half of them died.
“Don't kill us!” said the other half.
“Now you have to be our slaves for forever, ha ha ha!” said the gods, and then sewed them all up inside the stomach of the head Primordial, Malfeas. (Malfeas got turned inside-out and sewn into his own stomach, too.)
“You guys suck,” said the Primordials to the Exalted. “We hereby curse you so that you'll all turn into assholes someday!”
“Whatever,” said the Exalted.
“Well, now that that's over,” said the Unconquered Sun, who had since declared himself King of All Cosmos, “Let's go play the Games of Divinity all day! You folks we Exalted, you guys can run the world. Make sure none of our lamer siblings start acting stupid. Make sure I get plenty of prayers coming my way. Other than that, have fun!”
“Hey, I feel kinda guilty for helping kill my brothers and sisters and enslaving the rest,” said Autochthon. “I'm going to leave Creation to go brood for a few thousand years.”
“Have fun!” said the gods.
So the Exalted – particularly the Solars – ran the world. Having been cool to begin with and then granted badassitude by the God of Awesome, they proceeded to do all sorts of cool stuff, like build magical cities out of glass, make mountains float, and breed dinosaurs who pissed heroin. YES, SERIOUSLY. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS IN EXALTED.
The Usurpation Eventually, though, the Solars got bored and jaded and full of themselves. “We killed the Primordials and made all this cool stuff. Everything we do must therefore be right. Let's run amok!” And so they did.
“This sucks,” said the Sidereals, whose job it is to make sure that the Loom of Fate, which is sort of the engine that runs Creation, doesn't crash. “At the rate they're going, they're gonna wreck Creation. Let's kill them and take their stuff!”
“Hey, we need your help,” the Sidereals said to the Dragon-Blooded, who were the least powerful but most numerous of the Exalted, who acted as lieutenants and aides and local governors and such. “Your asshole Solar bosses are gonna wreck the world. Can you help us kill them?”
“Figures they'd end up doing something like that. Sure, we'll help,” said the Dragon-Blooded.
“Come to our big dinner banquet!” said the Sidereals to the Solars. Then, when the Solars arrived, the Sidreals blew the place up, and trapped the Solar's Essence Shards in a magic cage so that no more Solars could be created.
“Yay, it worked!” said the Sidereals. “We'll erase all evidence of our existence and run the world from behind the scenes, while the Dragon-Blooded can do the dirty work!”
Meanwhile, the ghosts of the dead Primordials caught 13 of the dead Solar's ghosts on the way down into the Underworld. “Work for us,” they said, “and we'll give you incredible power, like what you had when you were alive!”
“What's the catch?” asked the ex-Solar ghosts.
“Well, you have to be our slaves and try to make everything, everywhere, die forever.”
“Deal! Let's get cracking!” And so were the Deathlords were created, super-powerful ghosts who want the world to die.
The Great Contagion and the Balorian Crusade So while the Dragon-Blooded were doing a fairly good (although not nearly as impressive as the Solars) job of running Creation, the Deathlords were building a doomsday plague.
“Taste the bitter poison mixed from the ashes of our hopes and the tears of betrayal in the dark pit of our tortured souls!” said the Deathlords, presumably while wearing too much eyeliner, and unleashed their doomsday plague into Creation.
“This sucks,” said 90% of the people in the world, and died.
“Hey,” said the Deathlords to the Fair Folk, who lived in the Wyld outside of Creation and didn't like the idea of a place that didn't just change according to their thoughts. “Just about everyone in there's dead now. If you went in, ate the souls of the survivors, and tore the place down, no one could stop you!”
“Thanks for the heads up!” said the Fair Folk, and promptly invaded in force.
“This is bad,” said one of the surviving Dragon-Blooded to her friends. “Fortunately, I just remembered that there's a sealed-off control center for an ultimate magical doomsday weapon that the Solars made for defending Creation against exactly this sort of thing. Let's go on an epic world-saving quest to get in there!”
“OK!” they agreed.
And so they went. Most died trying to get past the defences, but eventually, two of them finally made it to the control panel.
“Please insert soul to activate this device,” said the control panel.
“What does that mean?” asked one, and then the other shoved her into the soul-extraction device.
And so this unnamed Dragon-Blooded gained access to Creation's greatest magical weapons systems and used them to blow up the Fair Folk.
“I hereby declare myself the Scarlet Empress and ruler of the world,” she said.
“Nuh uh!” said some, until she blew them up. This brought lots more people over to her side, and thus was born the Realm, which is the major power in the world today.
Still, some said, “You were just a lieutenant who got lucky and stumbled across some doomsday weapons. We still have some doomsday weapons of our own, and we'll fight back!” The Scarlet Empress wanted to blow them up too, but a lot of her weapons didn't reach and she was kind of afraid of a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario, so, despite the occasional invasion attempt, they remained independant.
And so things went for over 750 years, until fairly recently, when the Scarlet Empress just up and disappeared. Having named no successor, the entire Realm is now leaderless and gearing up for civil war to see who's gonna be the next one of the Scarlet Throne.
Meanwhile, the Deathlords discovered where the Sidereals has stashed their cage full of Solar shards. “Hey, we can warp those and use them to create our own invincible deathknights!” they said. “Let's go get that cage!” Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for everyone else), half the Essence Shards got loose. Now, once again, there are Solar Exalted.
And that's where the game begins.'
Kudos to whoever wrote this - you made my job alot easier. So, questions?
(History snatched from 1d4chan, in case you were CURIOUS)
Next, EXALTED! PART THREE: YOUR EXALTATION AND YOU!