Creation Et All/Gods
The gods were created by the Primordials in order to free those enigmatic beings to play the Games of Divinity. Rising up in revolt the Celestial Incarna created the Exalted who defeated the Primordials for their creators.
Gods and Elementals
All of the gods of Creation hold a defined place in a vast Celestial Bureaucracy. No matter their station, all of these beings serve a function - from the greatest Celestial deities to the least god who guards a single road or a tiny spring. Sometimes these lesser gods are referred to as "spirits," although many gods take this lable as an insult. Everything in Creation, from concepts (such as mercy) to objects (such as swords) as well as specific objects (such as the Scarlet Throne) to forces of nature (such as the seasons). Wise people will know which gods govern areas and items of interest to them and what to offer these gods when seeking to gain their favor or to deflect their ire. Although they are naturally immaterial, these beings can even manifest physically (but only at a great cost of their personal Essence).
Types of Gods
There are clear distinctions between celestial and local deities. Celestial dieties are gods of univeral phenomena - i.e. storms, war, darkness, cities and lost things - while local deities are gods of single places, areas or things. The celestial dieties are all a part of the Celestial Court and generally have greater status than the gods with a purely local domain (although it is possible for a strong local deity to have a higher status than a lesser Celestial one - particularly in the degenerate state of Heaven today. Additionally, local gods are not permitted to dwell in Yu-Shan, the Celestial City, though they may visit it and are allowed only brief access to the Games of Divinity.
The more powerful a god is the more expensive it is for them (in terms of Essence cost) for them to remain materialized inside Creation. If they wish to spend much of their time in material form, gods prefer to reside in manses and demesnes. When manifested, gods can be slain, but they will rise again - weakened, but still themselves; great power or intervention from the bureaucracy of Heaven in Yu-Shan is required in order to destroy a god totally. However, to act against ONE God is to act against ALL- the hierarchy is the greatest paradox of static evolution-there is no usurpation, no supplanting of the creators by the created, the natural order will always stand just as that and most importantly to interfere, interrupt or attempt to sway or influence the will of the DIVINE, only brings down the most merciless reprecussions upon those who have made such actions and equally upon those who did not act-there is no tick for tack-an errant whisper spoken unto the hieracrchy will return upon the totality of creation with such an unspeakable force that all will be affected. The intervention of heaven's hierarchy is bound to the will of the creator's-and since all that exists exixts at the will of the creators, what intervention is needed? Only abject and blatant disregard to the hierarchy brings down the intervention of the creator's-at which point the striking down of a god, should be your last concern-for the Gods will war with those who attempt to act against them. And what force is equal or greater to that of the creators?
Elementals are different from gods, being a comingling of elemental matter and Essence. They are embodyments of aspects of Creation: storm spirits and wood beings, fire dancers, water hags and deep hiders of stony secrets. Some elementals serve gods, while others - such as the Elemental Dragons - can cause even powerful gods to worry. When slain, an elemental reverts to the original matter of the element that spawned them, loosing its memory at the same time.
The Order of Heaven
The Celestial Incarna
The Celestines, or Celestial Incarnae because of their associaton with a heavenly body (the sun, the moon or one of five planets that appear in the sky) were foremost among the servants of the Primordials. The Celestines are the Unconquered Sun, Luna and the Five Maidens; Gaia is often counted among the Incarnae, rising their number to eight, but in actuality she is one of the only surviving Primordials instead of being a god.
The Celestial Bureaucracy
Beneath the Celestial Incarnae are many other gods who are charged with watching over Creation. All gods hold some position in its rankings, whether or not they choose to observe their duties, and even those deities who have been degraded for improper conduct are still part of the divine system. The Bureaucracy is divided into five Bureaus, under which fall all the functions of Creation and Heaven. A god's position in this is based on two criteria: power and history.
Every god, no matter how low or high in the scheme of Heaven knows his duty and should perform the tasks assigned to him. Even those lesser gods that are the result of mortal actions and worship (for example, the spirit of a specific sword or a boat) are aware of their relative status and obligations. Gods are best defined in terms of their assigned duties, whether or not they perform those duties and what their area of patronage is.
Elementals and the Terrestrial Bureaucracy
Elementals are personifications of specific aspects or functions of Creation. The original (and by far most powerful) elementals were created by the gods from Essence-infused elements, under the guidance of Gaia after the example of her offspring, the five Elemental Dragons. Although when they were created things ran smootly without the need for elemental spirit courts, times have changed and so elementals are now ordered under the direction of the Elemental Dragons.
All elementals are aspected toward one of the five elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water or Wood. They exist to meet some need or task related to this element and perform their functions not out of a sense of duty (as do the gods, theoretically) but due to their very character - to not act as they must act is to not be an elemental. In size they vary, at one end you have mighty masters of the winds and guardians of entire foreBrine Curs|brine curs]] or fire butterflies. An elemental's form and size vary with its degree of power - with the greatest becoming dragons; however, they are also static things, closely tied to their surroundings.
The Terrestrial Bureaucracy is inefficient, slack and overburnened by excessive protocol. It is also as or more corrupt as the Celestial Bureaucracy. Excluding those areas that actually do work effectively it is in a shambles, often only invoked when one of its more powerful participants sees an advantage in doing so.
Anthropomorphic Realities of the Gods
In Exalted, immortality does not often come with omniscience, perspective or selflessness. Gods, by their very nature, are biased in specific ways. Because each god was created to watchover a specific area or item in order to protect and supervise it they naturally have a desire to sgrengthen, protect and improve the standing of these items and areas. This leads to a severe lack in perspective toward anything not related to their guiding motivations, to the point where they are often prepared to take bribes (in the form of praise, service or favors) to advance their own interests. Feuds among the gods are also often common, whether over the worship of mortal followers or attempts to decrease one deity's standing in order to increase their own. Gods are capable of quite astonishing levels of pettiness and living forever makes them equally qualified for holding grudges.
Theoretically, Heaven functions in perfect order and morality. The Celestial Bureaucracy (see above) is meant to be directed by Five Celestial Bureaus which are the Commission on Abstract and Celestial Concern (or the Bureau of Heaven), the Celestial Monitors of the Seasons and Weather (or the Bureau of Seasons), the Divine Witnesses of Human Works and Deeds (or the Bureau of Humanity), the Superintendency of Nature Grand and Humble (or the Bureau of Nature) and the Most Excellent Designers of Destiny and Sidereal Conjunctions (or the Bureau of Destiny). The higher gods of the Bureaus issue directives to the lower ones, the elementals ensure the proper behavior of weather and other natural phenomena, mortals provide worship and praise, and Creation moves smoothly from day to day.
In practice, however, all levels of both the Celestial and Terrestrial Bureaucracies are riddled with corruption. In the First Age, the Celestial Exalted kept order in the Terrestrial Bureaucracy. With the Solar and Lunar Exalted gone after the Usurpation, the same level of control was not maintained, because it was not possible for the Dragon-Blooded to do so for all of Creation.