Triptych is a fictional world setting created early in the 1990's. It was originally meant to be published as a series of installments in a furry fanzine called Rowrbrazzle, however I've left that zine for greener pastures.

The world of the Triptych is much like ours today. It takes place in the modern era, and is not so different in history with one important distinction.

In every culture, even in our real-life world, there have always been stories told of animals speaking, of gods and heroes with the heads of creatures, of wise owls and clever coyotes, of ancient spiders and talking fish. Through their stories, we can learn lessons that we would otherwise have to understand the 'hard way'.

In the Triptych world, all those stories might be true. While it is true that there are no real talking dogs, no mermaids or unicorns, or suchlike even in their modern world, the Triptych world used to have gods that walked among men with falcon heads, river goddesses bathed in fins and bubbles, tricksters and heroines who ran as wolves or deer.

The world of the spirits has changed over the millennia, but still some life remains in the twilight between man and animal. Most men have forgotten their connection, or never known it, but some...

Certain groups of people had always been closer to the animal-spirits than others. Be it in Africa, Australia or the new world, tribes always had a shaman to appease or understand the wilderness. Breaking down the barriers between animal speech and what humans know. Many of those shamans were blessed by their animal-spirit friends, to have powers that they could convey. Camoflage, good hunting, night vision, deft balance. Even gifts like flight or burrowing, the Shaman could call upon the spirits and they would be answered.

Over time, the spirit world became locked into these shamans or their families, or certain individuals whom they could tell were distinct from their peers. The spirits would eventually gather within these people and reside there for a time, allowing the human access to their shape, powers or abilities. Eventually, the spirits would do so only for these few chosen.

These chosen often manifested the traits and appearance of their spirits at times of stress, or during puberty, but most often they were respected members of their societies. Sometimes they were considered outcasts, or feared outright. Their powers included (and still include) the ability to shapeshift into their Prime forms or somewhere between - animal-headed gods, horse-men, werewolves of lore, all things that actually occurred in the world of the Triptych.

At the turn of the first millennium, a fascinating variety of animals and spirits were represented. These have slowly changed and diversified. Animals once thought either extinct or fanciful exist if there is enough "belief" in them to fuel a spirit bond.

Near the middle of the 16th century, something changed in the spirit and human world. First, in Europe mostly, the spirits of the insectoid or arachnid families stopped appearing for the shapeshifters. This was more a practical human-oriented thing for them to do, as shifting into a giant 8-legged spider-centaur would usually cause people to kill the spirit's host, rather than inspire awe or respect. The other change was that white men came to the new world.

In the lands first colonized by foot wanderers and boat traders from both north Eurasian areas and the Polynesian islands, the lands of the "American Indians", the shaman was still a respected and well-loved member of society. Myths walked among men, the White Buffalo Woman and Coyote for instance. However when the white man and Spaniards first began to encounter these groups, and "westernize" their cultures, the shaman again became an outcast. There was no room for such shapeshifting deviltry in the Christian/Catholic world of Europe, and as such it had no place any longer in the Americas.

Slowly, the spirits shrank and hid among special pockets of humanity. One such group, the Tsal-a-gee, or Cherokee, guarded a special lake that was said to heal all animals who came to it. Once, that lake existed somewhere on the eastern seaboard. Today, after centuries of hiding, it has re-appeared in a valley where resettled Native peoples have lived. That entire group, the Snow Rising reservation, are in fact Triptych.

Generally speaking, the Prime spirits will run in families. However with the world having been so completely overpopulated and mobile for generations, it seems that new blood is being located constantly. Half-blooded Triptych/human kin may find themselves hosting one or two spirits, but rarely are they given the full 'treatment'. Bloodlines from Europe and Eurasia will tend to have animal primes that are localized to that area of the world, the same with African or North/south American. However this seems to be blurred along with the muddled ideas of 'race' among humanity. Some extremely white South African Triptych have found themselves with a honey-badger prime or that of a lemur. So it is not 'consistant' that prime spirits seek out those of their original range or bloodline.

In the late 1800's the surprisingly wealthy black American James Faust encountered his first Triptych. From that day on, he was both mystefied and obsessed with finding the truth behind the Triptych shape shifting. A brilliant man, obviously one who beat the racism and financial restrictions of the era, Faust founded a research organization devoted to this task. Generations later, his progeny have kept up his tasks and in fact have exceeded all expectations.

Largely their company, now called Polygen, has openly invested in biological research and medical technology. Ostensibly, they are one of the leaders in organic cures, medicines and engineering. They have produced successful cloned animals, on the market with a bit of hesitation but openly welcomed in the medical community who wish to keep their research going without "killing housepets".

Polygen has also successfully cloned humans. They of course leave that out of their collective resume. The only reason that they have done this, is to research specific Primes and how they might act when faced with multiple targets.

They've learned this much: there are far more Primes than anyone ever thought.

Polygen's research facilities are scattered all over the USA and Canada, as well as having two European facilities and one in Africa. Many of the people working at these facilities are Triptych themselves. They are hired on after being located, interviewed and researched (if voluntarily there). What most of them don't realize, is that if they have merely "plain ordinary" Primes - dogs, cats, horse, etc - and nothing of much interest as an exotic or dangerous Prime, they are sterilized secretly.

Those who do have those interesting Primes? They often supply the genetics for the cloning facility. Rows upon rows of certain people can be found, near maturation or in stasis as foetal cells. Each and every one of them so far has successfully been linked with Primes. Not all of them are friendly to Polygen any longer, but most are.

Life in the modern times for a Triptych can be quite dangerous. Comic book heroes are not "real" in this world - all those stories about unicorns and dragons are just silly myths. A tripper embued with powers of a Prime may find themselves in a jam if they suddenly turn into a sandpiper during their track meet. Many young Triptych hosts have run away from home at least once, though sometimes their families are more easily accepting. Those that have two parents that are Triptych are often best off. Those that have two parents that have not been hunted down by Faust, that is.

The US government does have a 'secret file' on Triptych. Most governments or social agencies somehow have a way of dealing with the stray encounter with a dog-wino or a bobcat-girl. That is largely because the Triptych are so widely spread, even in secret, they have 'infiltrated' most aspects of life. From 7/11 owners to the office of the President, you'll find Triptych.

continue to Primes and Spirits