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A Field Guide to the Ghosts

>>> Not familiar with plurality? Start here.

These are only our preferences! Different systems will have different ways they want to be addressed, different opinions on which questions are rude, and so forth.

If in doubt: ask them, not us!

Who am I talking to? What do these initials mean?

Here's a quick reference!

Name Pronouns Tag Notes
Phosphor they/them or he/him P. Goes by "Lucent" in FFXIV circles.
Bastion he/him B.
Lark he/him or they/them Lk.

This isn't everyone, by the way. It's just the people you're most likely to encounter. (If you're curious about the others, drop by our roster.)

We might not always sign off. If you don't know who you're talking to, you can always ask!

How to address us

Names and pronouns

As a rule of thumb: you can think of our collective names as family names.

It's fine to refer to any one of us by a collective name, as long as context makes it clear who you're speaking to. However, none of us "own" those names. You'll get a blank stare from us if you ask which of us is "Nineth," like if you walked up to the Addams family and asked which of them was Addams.

We have a number of collective names. "Hungry Ghosts" is the one we give when asked about a System Name(tm); "NinethLions" is a screenname we use on a few shared accounts. You can always ask if a screenname is collective or individual.

All said, we appreciate it a lot when people address us by our own names.

It's fine when someone who doesn't know you calls you by your last name. But it's kind of weird when someone who does know you does it. (Unless they're like, your boss.)

Pronouns operate similarly. All of us will respond to "they/them," but those are group pronouns, not individual ones. Using our individual pronouns is always a +++.


"Nineth is the only one in their system who likes black tea." - This is okay, but kind of weird if context doesn't indicate which Nineth you mean.

> Better: "Bastion is the only one in his system who likes black tea."

"Ghosts, are you and your headmates cool with that?" - This is okay, but grammatically weird.

"Ghost, are you and your headmates cool with that?" - This is also okay, but it makes us think of the Hollow Knight player character.

> Better: "Lark, are you and your headmates cool with that?"

> Also better: "Ghosts, are y'all cool with that?"


To refer to us as a group: system, collective.

To refer to individuals: headmates, sysmates, system members, people.

Do not use: parts, personalities.

(Not as repulsive, but still avoid: selves, alters.)


"Are all of your parts in agreement?" - No!!!

> Much better: "Are all of your headmates in agreement?"

> Also great: "Is the entire system in agreement?"


Okay questions to ask (and their answers)

Who are you all, IRL?

We masquerade as just another boring adult working a boring adult job. You probably wouldn't blink if you passed us on the street.

That isn't to say our life is a bad one. We're surrounded by people we care about, who care about us, and we have enough to provide for ourselves and ours. It's not exciting, and it has its difficulties, but we are content with it... which is, unfortunately, more than a lot of queer folks in this day and age can say.

How did you figure out you were plural?

We've been talking to each other and "feeling like multiple people" for nearly as long as we could remember. When we encountered the plural community, it just clicked.

What is being plural like?

This is a complicated question! You'll have to tell us which parts you're curious about if you want a detailed answer.

For now, our answer is: you're never alone, for better or for worse.

Are any of you in relationships with each other?

Yes. You might discover who if you explore our site!

Can I talk to a specific headmate?

In most cases: yes, if they're around to take the call, and if the current fronter is okay with it.

We don't mind if you want to speak to a specific person about something. We also don't mind if you're only friends with a specific headmate and prefer to do friend stuff just with them. (We wouldn't expect someone to always be friends with their friend's housemates, after all!) That being said, please do be mindful that our life is still a shared one.

Will I be interacting with any children/littles?

No, everyone who comes out here is an adult.

I want to write a plural character, how do I do that well?

Here's a comprehensive guide by the Dragonheart Collective!

Our personal thoughts: we could give you a rundown of tropes and tips, but absolutely nothing substitutes for getting to know actual plural folks. Not psychiatrists, or any other kind of singlet "expert." Actual plurals.

And if in doubt: hire a sensitivity reader! If you need a recommendation, here are LB Lee's rates. In addition to being a plural historian and mental health educator, they're storytellers themselves!

I met some other plurals, how do I treat them well?

More Than One has some good rules of thumb, but you should ask the system in question! Everymany's preferences are different.

I'm questioning plurality, how do I know if I'm plural?

More Than One has some resources for this!

Our personal advice: if thinking of yourself as multiple helps you in a way that thinking of yourself as singular doesn't, then you can call yourself plural.

I want to be plural. Can I become plural?

Are you sure? Being plural isn't all sunshine. We consider our own plurality a positive, and we still have our struggles. It gets messy, trying to meet the needs of multiple people with only one body's worth of everything.

Our advice: really spend some time reflecting on why you want to be plural. Are there other paths you could take?

For example, if you're lonely, try finding groups who share your interests. If you struggle to socialize, consider reading some blogs like Captain Awkward for down-to-earth advice. Your people are out there, and you will find them, as long as you don't give up on looking. We promise.

Why are the ghosts hungry?

It's a convoluted series of inside jokes about our childhood as a first-generation Asian-American(s), our complicated feelings about community, and a book that we read long ago.

Also: we probably forgot to eat.

Rude questions to ask (and why they're rude)

To quote LB Lee, "Rule of thumb: If your question would be rude or brain-breaking for a family you've known for a similar amount of time, please don't ask us!"

Which of you is the real you?

This implies that only one of us is real, and the others are not.

In any case: all of us are real, and none of us are you. :P

Are you dangerous?

Don't buy into Hollywood's nonsense. Plural people are people like anyone else, and stigma has harmed us a lot.

As for us specifically, we're dismayed by the tremendous amount of violence and hatred in the world, and we try to live as compassionately as possible.

Are you roleplaying?

No. This is a very real part of our life.

Can you prove you're plural?

Our life makes more sense and is more functional when we approach it as a collective. That's all the proof we need.

Do you have any real friends?

a) This implies that we, as individuals, are not real. (There is a difference between "real" and "physical.")

b) Is this something that you ask everyone? If not, why do you feel compelled to ask us in particular?

Anyway, our answer is "yes, both inside and outside of our head."

Do you think (insert persons here) is faking?

a) We can't know.

b) We don't care.

c) Why do you care?

If the answer to c is "because they're being rude to me and using [thing] as an excuse," you don't need to know whether they're faking or not to set boundaries. If the answer is "because I thought they were cringe," we strongly encourage you to find better things to do than judging how other people present themselves.

What was your trauma?

That's between us and our therapist. The fact that we've talked about some parts of it online does not mean we're willing to divulge additional details on demand, particularly to a stranger.

(Also, not every system has a trauma history! Try not to make assumptions.)

Questions that aren't rude, per se, but they're tiresome so we're answering them here

Which of you is Nineth/Ghosts/(insert other group name)?

Please read the earlier sections.

Why are you plural?

A variety of things, from survival to imagination. We don't think there's a singular cause for our plurality, and we don't consider our origin to be that important.

(For other plurals: no, we don't use -genic labels.)

How many headmates do you have?

Right now, there's about 20 people who are active, 9 people who have any interest in being known to the outside world, and 3 people who come around front with any regularity.

Do you have DID?

(Important context: DID and plurality are not the same thing. DID is a dissociative disorder characterized by dysfunction and amnesia, with specific diagnostic criteria. Plurality is simply the internal experience of being more than one. Not every plural system has DID, or any other dissociative disorder.)

It's a diagnosis that we would have qualified for in the past. However, we didn't have the money or the mobility to keep seeing our dissociative specialist, and so the process of getting it on paper was dropped midway through. By the time we had money and mobility again, we'd figured most of our stuff out (because we needed to in order to get money and mobility...?) and felt that having a paper diagnosis would be more hindrance than help.

All of this is to say: it's complicated! Either way, the psychiatric system is kind of a mess, and we don't consider diagnosis an important part of our identity.

Do you have any fictives or factives?

Fictives: yes, but we're not saying who.

Factives: nope, we don't.

What are your [labels]?

We don't use microlabels, and we're sparse with our usage of non-microlabels as well. Nothing against the folks who use them, but we find it easier to just describe our experiences without trying to find a box for them first.

That said, all of us are absolutely, totally, unapologetically queer.

Do you want to fuse (become one person)?

We did undergo a partial fusion, in which a bunch of our fragmentary members merged with the ones who had a stronger sense of self. It reduced our dissociation, and those who fused were glad for it. That said, those of us who are left have no interest in it. We quite like being ourselves, and we consider our plurality a positive thing on the whole.

What's your opinion on [internet discourse of the day]?

We should all strive to be excellent to each other. Internet discourse is kind of terrible at that.

If you have a question that wasn't answered here, you're welcome to ask. There are questions that we won't answer, but we're unlikely to take offense as long as they're asked in good faith.

Last updated: Jun 29, 2023

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