|Designer(s)||Geoffrey C. Grabowski|
|Publisher(s)||White Wolf Publishing|
Exalted is a role-playing game published by White Wolf Publishing. The game is classified as high fantasy. It is strongly influenced by Japanese anime and manga, the cultures of China and Rome, and a number of literary sources such as the writings of Michael Moorcock.
The basic premise of the game is that the player characters are chosen by a higher being (such as the Unconquered Sun, Luna, the Neverborn, Autochthon, the Five Maidens, or the Five Elemental Dragons) and imbued with the powers of a demigod (thus, "exalted," or "raised high.").
Originally, the Exalted were created by gods in order to overthrow the other Primordials and to rule Creation. However, as the Primordials were killed, thus becoming the Neverborn, they laid a curse upon the Exalted; the Solar Exalted worst of all. The rulers of the First Age grew decadent and corrupt in their great power before they were usurped by their Terrestrial Exalted servants under the direction of the Chosen of the Five Maidens, the Sidereal Exalted. During a time known as the Usurpation, the Solar Exalted were hunted to extinction by the Terrestrials, and their mates and consorts, the Lunar Exalted, Chosen of Luna, were driven to the very fringes of Creation. Since each Solar "shard" moves on to a new host when the demi-god it is exalting dies, the Sidereals had to capture each Solar shard and imprison it so that it could not return to exalt another Solar. To that end, they were mostly successful, the few random shards that they missed exalting new Solars throughout the ages which were quickly hunted down and killed, using astrological magics to find the newly Exalted. For hundreds of years, the Sidereals, working behind the scenes and fading from public knowledge of their very existence, promoted the divine right of the Terrestrial Exalted to rule over Creation and the role of any other Exalted as hideous, evil monsters that were nothing more than Anathema to Creation.
After the rule of the Solars was broken, the Terrestrials organized themselves into a Shogunate, similar to the real shogunate of 18th and 19th century Japan. During this time, they ruled over the peoples of Creation in imitation of their former Solar masters, but that rule didn't last. A virulent plague known as the Great Contagion was the beginning of the end of the Terrestrial Shogunate, wiping out much of humanity, and hot on the heels of the Great Contagion were the Fair Folk, inhabitants of chaos, who desired nothing more than the destruction of the order that is Creation in favor of the chaotic energies of the Wyld from which Creation was originally formed by the Primordials. Between the Great Contagion and the Balorian Crusade of the Fair Folk, almost ninety percent of humanity was destroyed. The only thing that saved humanity was the actions of a small group of Terrestrial Exalted who broke into the Imperial Manse of the Solar Exalted and activated the reality-generating engines and weapons of the Solars of old. Only one of the Terrestrials survived, rising to power as the savior of humanity and establishing a dynastic empire, taking the role of the Scarlet Empress with the assistance of the nearly-forgotten Sidereal Exalted. From then on, she was the most powerful force in Creation and her empire became the center of culture and stability in the world. During her reign, the hunt against the Solars continued and although the world fell into decadence and disrepair, life continued on and the world recovered.
At the time that the setting takes place, the Scarlet Empress has disappeared five years earlier and the Scarlet Empire is on the brink of tearing itself apart. The Solars shards have escaped their imprisonment and new Solar Exalted are emerging into Creation, their numbers growing. Not it is a race to see if the newly-risen Solar Exalted will survive their enemies long enough to make their mark upon the world, for good or for ill.