Here’s a brief overview of some key points of history, cobbled from my notes. Again, this is all in development and may change.
When the world was formed, the stuff left over from its making became the Titans. They despised Creation, of which they were not a part, and sought to subjugate it, twist it, break it. These monstrous creatures—some terrifyingly powerful—destroyed and slaughtered, spreading misery and demanding human sacrifice.
Some mortals worshipped the Titans, out of terror. Others tried to fight them, but none could prevail. They were far too strong. The Titans wreaked their ruin upon the land and people, destroying and defiling the creation they hated one agonizing piece at a time. This was an age of horror, and history does not record how long it lasted.
Then the world itself lifted all its voices in protest. The sun, moon, and stars found their voices, crying out against the Titans. The seasons in their turning, the wind in its blowing, the sea in all its restless power and glory; each rose up, given a voice to speak and a will to act. The towering mountains, the velvet night and all its terrors, the searing riddle of the fire—every Aspect of the natural world, silent until now, stepped forth from the Nether in a form of power and wonder, given shape and tongue by one united desire: to cast the Titans down.
And thus the Gods were born.
The Gods gave battle to the Titans, and apocalyptic war raged across the land. To aid them, the Gods called forth sprites and kami, lesser spirits of the Aspect they embodied. They called forth the Dragons, from the wildest and harshest places of Creation: from the heart of the volcano, the jagged storm-lashed rocks of the coast, the ice crevasses of the northern wastes. The Fae came to fight beside the Gods as well, answering their call, in a glorious host that bent the Nether to their will.
The Gods cast down the Titans and slew them, sundering them into chaos once more. But it is said their hateful spirits are too strong to die, and linger on, craving vengeance, awaiting a chance for resurrection.
(Note: This happened at the earliest dawn of history, thousands of years ago.)
The Court of Disaster
With the Titans gone, civilization grew. Some Gods were fascinated by mortals and went among them, protecting and even loving them. Many Gods stayed aloof from mortals, preferring the wilds. And some despised mortals, for a variety of reasons.
Those who despised the mortals sought to wipe them out as a pestilence, and war broke out between the Gods themselves. Those who sided against the mortals were known as the Court of Disaster, as their hatred of mortals meant their Aspects came to herald doom and destruction for humans: things like storms, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.
The mortals bore the brunt of the war, but in time, their side prevailed. The victorious Gods and their half-mortal children, the Exalted, bound the defeated Court of Disaster in crypts dispersed throughout the land. To appease the wild Gods who disapproved of the war, and to avoid another divine war and the destruction it would wreak, most of the Gods withdrew to the Netherworld and stopped walking the land, save only for brief visits.
The Red Emperor and the High King
After the departure of the Gods, for a long time mortals lived in relative peace. They formed into various kingdoms, tribes, countries, city-states, and so on, with only minor clashes. The Firstborn (first generation Exalted) mostly preferred not to fight one another, and in those early days, the Firstborn ruled.
As more Firstborn died, passed into the Netherworld, or withdrew from politics, the balance of power became more volatile. War between kingdoms became commonplace; and with Exalted joining the fray, the battles were often bloody and destructive. It was a dark and violent period in history.
During this time, scholars discovered that Exalted could use their own blood for magical power. But then an Exalted known to history as the Red Emperor made a darker discovery: that you could use the blood of other, unwilling Exalted as well. He hunted Exalted and drained their blood to increase his own power, until his domain spread in blood and conquest across much of the land.
The remaining free nations had to cease their quarrels and wars and band together to stop him. They formed a Council of Nations and chose from among their royal number one to be High King. Under the High King’s banner they fought the Red Emperor and cast him down.
Since that day, there has always been a High King or Queen, chosen by a Council from the royal families or Exalted rulers of the various nations. The High King mostly leaves the nations to govern themselves, but can step in to resolve disputes, lead the nations when they must come together for a common cause or against a common enemy, and moderate diplomatic relations between nations. In some reigns, the High King leaves the nations entirely to themselves; in others, the High King rules as an absolute monarch, as if the world were one nation.
(This is still in development, so I’m going to be very vague and brief here)
Sometime around 10-20 years ago (exact date TBD), a small number of the Court of Disaster (3-ish) got free from their prisons, and since then mortals have been fighting a bitter and bloody war against angry Gods bent on wiping them out. Much more on this coming, but suffice to say that’s the pressing context at the start of the campaign.
The game takes place at Bellator Keep, a remote but tactically important international diplomatic, military, and research outpost built on/near some ancient ruins. PCs will be stationed at the Keep in one or more of its core capacities (as diplomats, military, and/or scholars). LOTS more coming (eventually) on that.