Son of the former emperor of the Osh-Tekk people, Kotal served under Shao Khan after the invasion of the realm of the Osh-Tekk. After Shao Khan's death, Kotal overthrew Mileena's reign and became the emperor of the outworld. He would focus much more on the internal affairs of the realm, choosing to not continue the expansionist wishes of Shao Khan.
Earlier in his life, Kotal spent a lot of time among the Mayan people, protecting them from the Spanish conquest. For this, he would be revered as a god. But this religious zeal would eventually inflict suffering on the earthlings, as blood sacrifices were harmful to them.