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The Primordials originally lived in Yu-Shan with the gods managing affairs from the Blessed Isle, until the gods engineered a revolt against the Primordials using the Exalted as their agents (due to a powerful Geas placed on the gods at their creation, the gods cannot themselves attack their Primordial creators).
With their death, the Neverborn cursed the Exalted with the Great Curse, leading to the corruption of the Solars and the end of the First Age. Only two of the gods are even aware of the Great Curse (Lytek and the Maiden of Secrets), and despite their efforts, the Great Curse is effectively unbreakable.
Only two Primordials survive intact: Gaia, who remains in Creation, and the Great Maker Autochthon, who fled into exile in the void of Elsewhere. The rest were either slain, becoming the Neverborn, or imprisoned, becoming the Yozi. Primordials created the gods as administrative assistants, to manage creation while they played the wondrous Games of Divinity.
The exact nature of the Primordials is open to extensive debate; the only Primordials left are Autochthon and Gaia, and Gaia has not been extensively detailed. However, some information can be gleaned from Exalted: The Autochthonians and Games of Divinity. GoD details the Yozis extensively, while E:TA covers Autochthon, who has some similarities to a Yozi. Within this section, we will assume that Yozis and Primordials are relatively close, although the Yozis may be twisted, perverted or otherwise reduced slightly.
Unlike the gods, who are somewhat comprehensible from the human perspective, and who can be bullied around even by a Terrestrial Exalted when necessary, the Primordials are a different order of being, closer to fundamental laws of the universe made manifest. The most basic difference between the Primordials and other entities is a simple matter of size and scope: Gaia is Creation; Malfeas, first among the Yozis, is a giant city containing all the other Yozis in some fashion; Autochthon is a separate realm unto himself.
In addition, the Essence of the Primordials is too large to be contained in one self. Primordials subdivide their personalities into at least 8 distinct souls, representing different aspects of their identity and worldview; these souls may themselves have subsidiary souls. In Autochthonia, these souls form an additional pantheon of deities.
Finally, life and death for Primordials is of a different nature than it is for other creatures. While Primordials can die, it appears to be more equivalent to a reconfiguration rather than a cessation of existence. Primordials do not enter Lethe or reincarnate, as they may be too big for such a concept to be meaningful; instead they become Neverborn. Neverborn, in turn are capable of activity - not the least of which being the creation of the Deathlords and continuously plotting to bring Creation to Oblivion (AOS). Even dead and asleep, the Neverborn are power incarnate.
GoD states that when a Yozi is slain, another aspect of the Yozi will replace the current one. This has happened to the Yozi Adorjan at least. It is not clear whether Yozis can be slain and turned into Malfeans.
The exact nature and behavior of the early Primordials is open to debate; while the Yozis and Malfeans are certainly malevolent, that is at least partly a function of their death and imprisonment. In contrast, Autochthon is portrayed as quite fond of ordinary, unenhanced human beings.
The reason given for the gods' revolt against the Primordials is fairly petty: the gods wanted to have the Games of Divinity for themselves. Given the state of Yu-Shan and the management of Creation, it is open to debate whether the gods are an improvement over the Primordials.
These are not all existing primordials, but only some of the most important ones. Some primordials were slain so thorougly that they were actually eliminated from reality altogether.
In addition, at the end of the Primordial War two primordials remained unaccounted for. One was responsible for the Aftershock War during the Unfurling Horizon Era, whilst the whereabouts and status of the last is still unknown.
Below there is a list of known Primordials. However, it should be noted that a number of primordials do not fall into any of thse categories.
Some remnants of the slain Primordials, destroyed during the Primordial War:
The fallen Primordials, still alive, but bound to Malfeas for all eternity:
- Adorjan, the Silent Wind
- Malfeas, the Demon City
- Cecelyne, the Endless Desert
- The Ebon Dragon
- She Who Lives in Her Name
- Cytherea, the Mother of Creation
- Kimbery, the Sea That Marched Against the Flame
- Oramus, the Dragon Beyond the World
- Hegra, the Typhoon of Nightmares
- Elloge, the Sphere of Speech
- Isidoros, the Black Boar That Twists the Skies
- Metagaos, the Unwilted Petals of the Thousand Toothed Blossom
- Sacheverell, He Who Knows the Shape of Things to Come
- Szoreny, the Silver Forest