The Library Collections
The Exalted are the Chosen of the Celestial Gods, who picked the finest, noblest and strongest of mortals to destroy the enemies of the Gods, the Primordials. There were four kinds of Exalted, each Chosen by different Gods. The Solar Exalted were the greatest of heroes, Chosen by the Unconquered Sun, greatest of the Celestials. The savage and mutable Lunars were Exalted by the Celestial God Luna, consort to Gaia, one of only two Primordials who sided with the Gods. The Five Maidens (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) Exalted the wise and cunning Sidereals. The Five Elemental Dragons created the Terrestrial Exalted, a.k.a the Dragon-Blooded, to be the lieutenants and foot soldiers of the Celestial Exalted. A great war at the dawn of time ensued, and when the dust had settled, the Primordials were either banished beyond the world or dead. The Celestial Gods were pleased and gave dominion of Creation to their Exalted, then retired to Heaven to enjoy the peace and play the Games of Divinity.
The Exalted ruled all the world for thousands of years of peace and prosperity, using the powers that the gods had given them to lead humanity into an unparalleled Golden Age. Unknowningly, the seeds of this Age's destruction were already planted. As the Primordials were defeated, they wove a Great Curse over the Exalted who had struck them down, proclaiming that the Exalted's greatest strengths - their virtue and nobility - would eventually become twisted and be their downfall. The Solar rulers of the First Age felt the brunt of the Great Curse, slowly devolving into maddened tyrants, drunk on their own power. Their Lunar consorts were hardly better. The Sidereals became blinded by their hubris. Eventually, the Sidereals, coming to the realization of the flaws in the nature of the Solars and Lunars (but not their own flaws), forsaw that the Solars would eventually destroy all of Creation if left to their own devices. Rallying the Dragon-Blooded Host, who were tired of the Solars' tyranny, they overthrew the Solars and Lunars. The Solars were killed almost to the last and their power and souls bound to prevent their return. The Lunars fled to the uttermost edges of Creation in exile. The Sidereals themselves, their work complete, disappeared from history, leaving the Dragon-Blooded to rule a wrecked and reduced ruin of the world's former glory. The First Age, the Golden Age, had ended, and the Second Age, the Age of Sorrows had begun.
In the RPG, you play some of these Exalted, nearly 2000 years after the fall of the First Age. The Solars are at last reincarnating and their power is returning to the world. The Dragon-Blooded still rule, and see the Solars as evil demons, and hunt them where they can, but their own Scarlet Empire is beginning to crumble from within.
The 'default' game has the PCs as Solar Exalted, but you can also run games around the Lunars, Sidereals and Dragon-Blooded, as well as a new kind of Exalted, which have only begun to appear in the Second Age, the Abyssal Exalted, who are a kind of 'inverted' Solar, sworn to the service of darkness and Oblivion instead of light and the Unconquered Sun.
WAU Disclaimer: The Exalted Role-playing game is a White Wolf intellectual property. Unfortunately, White Wolf was purchased by Paradox Interactive after CCP failed to successfully develop their MMO version of World of Darkness. Either way, we don't own or have any say in the trademarks or property rights associated with the games or universe. These stories are not sanctioned or canon. Rather, they are simply set in that environment... similar to fan fiction or to building a campaign setting to share with friends.