Okay, lets think about this a bit (I am using much of this in my own campaign, but you are welcome to my thinking).
What are the characters to accomplish? I generally would say "Save Creation" - I like things big. ^_^
From What? This is where it gets interesting ... major options seem to be
- The Return of the Yozis (they are being freed). - The Malfeans plan (War. Enough death to turn creation into one huge shadowland.) - The Fair Folk invasion
My theory is use them all together, and add other points for the fun of it.
I'm personally having fun with the first one, using the demons freed from the Invisible Fortress (yes, the demons tricked my players into doing this! ^_^) as the instigators starting by freeing Ligier and going on from there. Definite player involvement, they started the ball rolling. ^_^
The Malfean plan is kind of fun too, I have already had the PC's help in one large war that was greatly extended the shadowland around the Black Chase (near Sijan). Its sort of my backup plan to have the PCs motivated to sort out the Abyssals and Deathlords, but it didn't really work so I've put it on the back shelf for a while. Until the PC's get caught in another Deathlord's plots that is (and this time don't side with him ^_^)! This could involve a quest for Solar Circle Sorcery (Benediction of Archgenesis) to remove the shadowlands etc.
The Fair Folk Invasion? Not too sure on this one. I'm sure I'll involve the fair folk in my stories, but they don't seem a big enough threat to me at the moment. I guess if the PC's get pulled to the edges of creation (its sure to happen sometime) and notice huge swathes of land being eaten up by the wild, probably by some nefarious plot of the Fair Folk nobles rather than armies of Fae, they will do something about it.
Lunars are around but not quite enough to base a story arc on until the PCs rule a region. Then hordes of barbarians and beastmen can become a major adversary and adversity!
Sidereals seem useful behind the scenes (helping or impeding the heroes, knowingly and unknowingly). When the PC's start wanting Sidereal Martial Arts (don't make it available at first, but the time will come when it will be appropriate) then they will have to help the Sidereals with their plans. Which I expect to cause a few long term problems for the group (e.g. give them Ma-Ha-Suchi as an enemy ^_^).
Also "Improve Creation".
- Learn of the gods' mismangement, probably from the Sidereal, and head to Yu Shan to sort them out. Ok, that is a VERY long term goal, but I hope things will last long enough to get there.
- Learn of the Great Curse, and quest to remove it from the Chosen
- Reclaim the Glories of the First Age
This would entail getting some kind of vision of the first age (through an artifact or still standing sorcery probably), and recovering buried instructions for those who would reinstate the Solar Deliberative. ^_^
It could work rather well when combined with a quest to remove the Great Curse ... perhaps they would find out about the curse while trying to reorganise the deliberative. With themselves as the Council of Five at its head, of course. ^_^
That is the way I work long term major story goals - have several of them, with backups and plans to bring in lots of sidestories and options for the players, and let the players choose where they want to take things (in game and by their actions, rather than before the game by telling me). ^_^
Hope this sparks some ideas! ^_^ BrokenShade