Exalted – ModernDecember 1, 2010
For those of you who have been keeping track, you may have noticed that I haven’t been updating three times a week for the last week or two. I’ve decided to cut back on my posts, and to only post when I have something I think is worth saying.
That said, something struck me today, something I’d been poring over off and on for a year or so, and I felt like this was exactly the place to share it. It’s the basic framework for an Exalted mod, changing the setting to the real world of the modern day. I hope you enjoy, even if you choose not to use it for your games. After all, the setting is one of the best parts of Exalted, and I am loathe to leave it behind, even for a bit. Huge thanks to The Demented One for some of the very important suggestions in here.
Once, before the world was as we know it now, it was a place of magic and wonder, of sorcery and sword rather than science and technology. It was a place called Creation, an island of stability in the seas of the infinite Wyld, and it was home to many, myriad races and peoples. Among them were the Exalted, chosen of the gods, and these titans used Creation as their plaything.
In time, however, one group of Exalted saw the others were growing corrupt. They met in secret, and they decided that Creation could not survive such upheaval. Something had to be done. These Exalted were oracles, and they cast their auguries amidst the stars, seeking an answer. They found three.
The prophecies are well known, amongst those who know such things. These Exalted chose to lessen the world rather than lose it entirely, and so they manipulated the least but most numerous Exalted to make war on the greatest. One by one, every last Solar Exalt was slain, their Exaltations trapped in a magical prison, every last one. Their consorts, the Lunar Exalted, fled into the Wyld, abandoning Creation.
But the Sidereals did not stop there. How could they? They understood the Exaltations they held, and they knew that nothing could hold them forever. They gathered and sought a way to change the world further, that the Exalted could not change it as they once could. They sought to protect it from all Exalted, even themselves. Striving together, they worked a massive sorcery into the Loom of Fate itself, sewing their very lives into the skein to reshape not only Creation, but all within it. It cost them their lives, all but one, as their very vitality was stripped and used as dye for the tapestry they wove, but it worked.
The threats came to Creation from its edges, so they would ensure that Creation HAD no edge. They warped the world, made of it a sphere, that nothing could creep in from the edge. To do this, they woke the Kukla, the ancient apocalypse dragon imprisoned within Creation’s deeps. Its passage sundered the world, shattering Creation’s landmasses and flooding the world. A remnant of a remnant was saved within Yu-Shan by the Sidereals, for repopulation. Once the world was destroyed, curled in on itself like a weeping child, the Kukla shed seven scales, each hotter than the sun, which fell into the world’s ocean and cooled into seven continents. It was on these that the Sidereals spread humanity and let it bloom.
The shattering of the world drowned all the world’s infrastructure, hiding Artifacts and manses alike, forcing the dragon lines to shudder and warp, causing even more destruction as manses worldwide experienced catastrophic power failure. 90% of the world’s population died in this holocaust, along with an even larger percentage of Dragon-Blooded. This also locked the Lunar Exalted in the Wyld, and forced them to remain apart from Creation for all time. They forced the Dragon Kings deep within the earth, with the Mountain Folk and the Darkbrood and as many other behemoths and unusual creatures as they could affect with their sorcery. There, too, they hid the Jade Prison, safely nestled within the burning core of the new world.
The gates to the Demon Prison, they carefully sealed, one by one, leaving open only those demanded by their treaties. The same, they sealed the gates to Yu-Shan, and though the gates themselves could not be destroyed, they were concealed with Fate magic and hidden throughout the world.
The Shadowlands, with their roots torn from beneath them, remained rents in the fabric of reality. Like drops of mercury, they folded together, adding the strength of Creation’s death-cries to their number. The Sidereals, seeing this, moved the new Creation with the Loom, until all the shadowlands gathered around it like a sphere. This barrier, this dead, lifeless void, became what we have explored of outer space, a border between the limitless chaos of the Wyld beyond and the nascent Earth.
They made humans the dominant species, and impressed upon the last of the Dragon-Blooded the importance of secrecy. Their dynasties would wither, but they would remain the secret caretakers of the world, left alone to guard Earth against whatever threats might creep from the bindings the Sidereals had lain. Humanity would begin again, with no technology, no magic, and no dependence on the Exalted. With the world thus changed, they passed away, their Exaltations locked with them in Yu-Shan. The last, Chejop Kejak, remained to face the punishments of the gods.
So time passed. The Exalted were forgotten but for stories and legends. The Dragon-Blooded, without supervision, mingled their blood thinly with humans, until what remained were little more than whispers of their previous selves. The Demon Realm rumbled, but could not reach the world. The Underworld quaked with its own wars, but ghosts could not make their way to Earth in large numbers. Humans warred among themselves, but such things were of no moment save to those embroiled in those conflicts.
In time, however, the Ebon Dragon learned of the location of the Jade Prison. He found the Neverborn and he made the infamous deal that would lead them to the Solars. The Neverborn, their shadowlands located deep within the Earth, found a way to open the prison and capture the Exaltations within, but as in the Creation we know, they failed to capture them all.
The released Solar Exaltations immediately sought to return to Lytek’s closet. While the bindings on the gates of Yu-Shan were impervious from within, the Exaltations from without, in combined force, shattered those bindings, releasing the Sidereals from their ancient prison.
In the deeps of space, where darkness creeps and strange things lurk beyond sanity, those Lunars who remained heard the pulse of their mates’ return. Lost in the darkness, they had spent millennia searching for Creation, but it was so different that they could not even recognize it when they saw it. Now, however, they follow the beacon of the Solar Bond like a guiding star. They have begun the long trek through the dark, but after so much time isolated, who knows what they might be like? Moreover, who knows what civilizations they have made on other worlds, or how much they might still bear Creation a grudge? Who knows how much the Raksha have mingled on these alien worlds, and how strange might be the fruits of those unions?
In the Underworld, the Neverborn have empowered their new stolen Exaltations, but with no easy access to the surface, these new Abyssal Exalted find themselves unable to bring their armies to Earth. Instead, they come one at a time, from the edges of the atmosphere, harbingers of doom. Their cousins, the Green Sun Princes, are similarly trapped, for though they can easily cross the Endless Desert, many of the doorways back into Malfeas are locked, and few there are who retain the rituals or Artifacts to permit crossing.
And with the return of the Solars, the world is forever changed. Nations, continents, cultures who had never been exposed to the Exalted are suddenly ruled by them, for there are no powers who can effectively stand against even a nascent Solar. The Dragon-Blooded are working to restore their former glory, but much of their magic has been forgotten.
Perhaps strangest of all, after no more than a year of study, a company calling itself Autocorp has announced that it can duplicate these Exalted, creating strange, hybrid man-machines with the power of the gods themselves. Yet, when those outside the company study these Exalted, they find their equations impossible, their physics unreasonable. These Automated Exalted have strange, ancient memories, and are an enigma to all who study them.
Now that all that is has noticed Earth once more, the true battle for its fate will begin. Exalted, Raksha, Dragon Kings, Mountain Folk, and gods will vie for the destiny of the world, with the human race caught between as both prize and resource.