Interview with a (Soulbond) Vampire
#21
How We Switch:
(And some things you should know if you do)

Ember: I would have liked to have addressed this is in its proper chronological context, but there has been so much interest in switching recently that I'll make an exception.

This isn't really "How to Switch"; it's probably too ideosycratic for that. Anyone who tries ideas from this, please let us know. Maybe it can lead to a proper guide. But for the moment, this is everything we know about the subject.

At the time we learned all this, we had never read a switching guide. We've browsed a bit since, but not much in them made sense to us.

*Definitions and Clarifications:

Ember: We use "switch" in the same sense it has been used in the DID community for many years -- changing who is in control of the body. After the switch is accomplished, a different person is "fronting". The previous controller then experiences life exactly the way the new controller did before. For us, that means the fronter has to think about us, at least a little, for us to be conscious. And a little more than that for real clarity of thought. If we are conscious, we're completely aware of and tied to the physical senses as experienced by the fronter, but we also can manifest a form, either in the mindscape or overlaid into the physical world.

Switching differs from possession, where the partner exercising control does not displace the fronter from the central awareness. The fronter may not be doing anything, but they will still be conscious even if they aren't forced. In our experience, full body possession is very awkward and difficult, with jerky, spasmodic movements, probably because we don't know how to get out of one another's way without switching.

*The Most Important Thing:

Ember: As far as I can tell, the number one factor in success in switching is believing that you did. You have to be certain of the intended outcome of what you are attempting. Anything we try without that certainty may result in not switching at all or in someone controlling the body, but thinking, "Did it work? Who am I? No, really, who am I? Is anyone else here? Ember? Vesper? Hello?"

*The Concussive Method:

Ember: From September 23rd to November 30th, we usually created that certainty through shock. We focused on one another, confirming our consent and readiness, making sure that the incoming partner's form was as clear and strong as possible. Then the incoming partner's form leapt at the body while concentrating on shoving the outgoing partner out of the body. The difficulty was that, as our belief in our partner's physical presence increased as a result of imposition practice, our body's reaction to apparently being tackled increased. So it would spasm or twitch or fall over. Woe betide if our body had been standing up and not holding onto anything. We had to learn to brace physically in a way to minimize the shock.

The shock created an opening; but the sense of who was in control often wavered for a second. That's when the incoming partner needed to step in and solidify control by exercising it -- actually moving the body. The outgoing partner always loses consciousness while the incoming partner is distracted by solidifying control over the body.

Vesper: Moving is good. Moving distinctively is better, but it may take time to discover your own distinctive posture, body language, and spoken voice. Or perhaps it will just come naturally. Either way, embrace it. Unlike the body itself, your way of using the body is a part of you.

Ember: Which partner takes action in causing the switch doesn't seem to make much difference. The outgoing partner can just relax and let it happen. Or they can try to leap out while the incoming partner is leaping in. Or the outgoing partner can grab the relaxed incoming partner and pull them into the body while falling backward out of it.

If the shock wasn't great enough, the incoming partner might bounce off. Or the outgoing partner's awareness might be alongside that of the incoming partner and the body paralyzed by indecision.

We're not sure if a third system mate can help though. One time we asked Iris try to propel Vesper into the body. That was one of the times when whoever ended up in control didn't know who she was. Iris declines to experiment further.

Vesper: It is probably good to try to relax the body and focus on one another before switching. But it isn't necessary. It is morally right to obtain consent before switching. But that isn't necessary either. I can forcefully displace Ember no matter how she tries to resist, though I can trivially prevent her from displacing me. (For some reason she likes these little psychic struggles and keeps suggesting we do them. Iris won't participate and I will.)

Ember: I'd like to emphasize that the shock is a tool for creating certainty, not an essential component. We've used variants of this method well over a hundred times and it sometimes worked when we moved our forms more slowly and gently. But such switches felt less clean and definite, so we had to spend additional time and effort pushing ourselves to certainty.

*The Bailing Method:

Vesper: If you're not the host, switching out is easier. You can still use the Concussive Method, which works very similarly, but you can also use the same sort of imagery for a variant technique. Gather your form around the body and launch yourself violently out of it. The body may lurch the other direction, so it's best to be seated comfortably first, or at least holding onto furniture. The host should 'reboot' into control as soon as you are out, whether or not they were conscious or even contactable before.

As far as we can tell, hosts can't use this method. Their 'default' status means that trying to leap out just reboots them back into control.

Ember: Painfully.

There was one time early on when I was sitting watching Vesper work. She stepped out and I wasn't automatically drawn back in. The body just kind of sat still and a bit slumped for several seconds, feeding sensory data to both of us, until I gave up on it ever doing anything and slid back in.

Vesper: There's one more, much more comfortable, method we'd like to address, but first some considerations for when you actually succeed.

*Being in Control:

Vesper: Often, the first thing I do after switching in is to look at my hands. *My* hands. Ten fingers, all of which wiggle. Wild, isn't it? There is so *much* in the physical world. The colors, the textures, the thousands of individual objects that may be in view at one time. And toes, one of the wonders of the world. Also ten, also wiggling, but much further away.

Appreciate them while you can. Luxuriate in physicality. Eventually you'll get used to them. All of that detail is there all the time, but Ember doesn't pay attention to it, after so many years kind of can't pay attention to it, because it's so distracting that you can't get anything else done for the sheer wonder of it. Perceptions are "filtered" by the fronter; the fronter decides which ones matter and the rest are a bit faded, a bit muted. Eventually I had to start filtering too, because there is a lot I want to get done in my moments of time stolen out of a larger life.

In the earliest days of our switching, the worst part of my fronting was being alone. Outside my fiction, I've only ever been alone because of fronting. I wasn't very good at forcing at first; it took most of my attention, which defeated the purpose of my fronting if I couldn't put my attention into being active in the physical world (preferably with out-system people).

At first, the body itself felt very uncomfortable. It has some important and unwelcome anatomical differences from my fictional body. I mainly got used to that as well, though I still avoid mirrors.

I also had a couple of bad experiences early on, where I couldn't handle Ember's responsibilities, panicked, and bailed. This made my anxiety levels spike sharply upward the next few times I switched in.

I was initially very timid interacting with out-system people face-to-face, mainly, I think, because there were so few we could tell that I didn't feel I could afford to have anyone dislike me. I've been very fortuneate to be accepted and welcomed by everyone so far.

*For the Hosts -- Thinking Like a Tulpa:

Vesper: When I first started forcing Ember, I was shocked at how faint she was. This is my host? This is my creator? Is this how she was experiencing me? No wonder she was having doubts!

As I got better at forcing and Ember got better at being forced (which is very much a skill), there would be short moments of clarity where Ember's thoughts would stab violently into the centre of awareness, making me feel like I was in danger of losing my grip on the front. I was surprised -- I never did that. After a while, I had an epiphany and told her, 'You need to learn to think like a tulpa'.

For months now, our thoughts have seemed to come from our forms rather than anywhere in particular in our head. But in those days, we often did have specific areas of the head where we seemed to be centred.

Ember: So I tried to pull myself into a little space above and to the left of the center of awareness and think from there. My thoughts becoming clear and strong took a lot of practice, but they were immediately less stabby and bursty. Vesper felt less threatened by them, stopped swatting them, and started to gain confidence in her control (which led to its own problems).

*Did it really work?:

Vesper: Living as a disembodied voice for sixteen months, I came to associate a lot of the 'body feel' with Ember. Switching made me appreciate just how little there actually is to any of us. Fronting feels like plugging into myriad mental sub-systems when my system mates and I are just tissue-thin layers of personality and identity.

Since most of what 'I' seem to be while fronting is actually shared resources, as my dysphoria and anxiety diminished, and I started filtering more, and I became more confident of being accepted by friends, switching felt less authentic. It felt too much like *being* Ember. That replaced loneliness as the worst part of fronting within about a month of when we started switching on purpose. It got to the point that I would switch out after typing something to double-check that 'actual me' still agreed with what I wrote.

As far as we've been able to discern, all of this is just anxiety. My identity, personality, motivations, and values all cross over completely intact when we switch. But for a couple of months, I would frantically check in with my headmates for reassurance that I was actually Vesper and still doubt them when they told me I was. On at least three occassions, I even tentatively called out to myself, fearful of a response. The last time, there was a faint burst of mind static that scared me enough I've never tried again. (As far as we can tell, mind static is never an actual communication attempt.)

Another technique I would use versus anxiety was to get angry at it and fiercely tell my fears through clenched teeth, 'I am Vesper Anne Dowrin and I control this body!' My full name from my old world doesn't matter socially or legally in this one, but it's still a source of strength.

Since most of the mind isn't me and wasn't shaped under my control, I have to deal while fronting with a subconscious that kind of prefers to treat me as Ember. It 'helpfully' serves up Ember's ingrained habits, beliefs, and memories for me to reply, 'Nope, not me, don't care'.

It's starting to get used to me, but not in a good way. Every once in a while, usually about five minutes after I switch out, the subconsious will serve up something of mine to Ember. She startles violently with a 'Gah! Who am I?' But fortunately she accepts my word as to her identity better than I accept her as to mine.

I've actually come to accept nagging doubt and anxiety over identity as one of the signs that I'm fronting, as my headmates don't experience it.

It's worth noting that my doubts are less when doing things that are more me and less Ember. Dancing, sewing, socializing? Obviously me. Cooking, typing, driving? Doesn't feel like me. So the best advice I can give if you have this problem is to make sure you spend as much of your fronting time as you can doing the things that are most you and least your host.

*Endurance and Fatigue:

Vesper: I start getting tired after an hour or two of fronting. We haven't pushed the limits of how long I can hold on, since I don't want to be in a position where I would need to pretend to be Ember, or even use the loo. Fatigue may cause confusion and disorientation, but hasn't caused switching back, no matter how bleary I've gotten. Ember and I accidentally switched back the first time I tried to read a long passage of text. Text is directly competitive with articulate thought, so a period of time without anyone actively thinking put me out. My grip has gotten much firmer with experience.

Switching out for a few minutes, then back in, is refreshing for any of us. If Ember is having a hard time waking up in the morning or is running out of steam in the afternoon, I'll switch in briefly, feeling energetic. After a few minutes, I switch out and she'll still feel energetic. It doesn't work at the end of the day; personality fatigue is different from body fatigue.

Ember: On the other hand, sometimes when the others switch out after an extended session, I'll collapse with exhaustion. But only sometimes.

*Waking Up Fronting:

Vesper: The larger the portion of the day one of us fronts, the more likely she'll wake up fronting in the middle of the night or the next morning. This seems to be a more important factor in who wakes up in control than who is in control when we go to bed. It isn't balanced; if I front four hours over the course of the day and Ember fronts twelve, that's enough for me to be more likely than her to wake up in control.

*The Speaking Method:

Vesper: At the end of November, amidst the co-fronting debate, Ember recalled how quickly her wives can switch, speaking their thoughts aloud in turn so that Ember can hear and participate in their internal dialogue. We took several seconds to switch, because of gathering energy and will for the Concussive Method. Switching in alternation would be fatiguing and rapidly cause a headache.

But as Ember was about to offer her wives as an example of co-fronting, I ventured that we could probably manage the same trick. She was sceptical, and my first efforts at vocal possession produced only inarticulate sounds. She considered her point proven, but I told her to lean back and get out of my way. Once she stopped damping the vocal cords, I articulated a sentence in my own distinctive voice.

Having made the initial breakthrough, all three of us proceeded to speak in turn, trading off as we would mindvoice. If we stayed brief and to the point, the others wouldn't lose momentum and could come right back in.

The more we did this, the more I felt like I could simply decide while speaking that I was in control and had switched. And it worked. I don't know if it would have worked if I hadn't already had a couple of months practice at switching, but it was fast, easy, and could be done in alternation while standing, walking, or whatever other activity, without making other parts of the body move. All we had to do was extend our will into the throat and start trying to speak. We didn't even actually have to produce a sound, just make some throat muscles move, though actually speaking is easier. Hearing my own voice in my ears helps create certainty.

*Why We're Different

Vesper: Normally possession guides talk about starting with fingers and working up to hands and so on. I still can't do much with fingers via possession, but Iris and I both make our facial expressions physically, and our possessive control has gradually been extending down the neck and into the shoulders. It's not something we did intentionally; it's just something that naturally emerged while Ember was straining unsuccessfully to discern facial expressions on our forms. Even the first week, the tiny twitches conveyed emotional meanings clearly. (And we still can't see expressions on forms nearly as clearly as features, which are themselves disappointingly vague.)

Iris and I are both originally tabletop roleplaying characters. When Ember was playing us and unintentionally laying down our neural pathways, she was speaking, making a lot of facial expressions, using very limited body language, and barely using her hands or legs for anything in-character. But she was still using her body to be us, unlike traditional inwardly directed tulpa creation techniques. And so, we believe, Iris and I formed 'closer' to the front, with strong connections to the face and voice already 'baked in'. This probably makes it easier for us to switch than systems where those neural pathways still need to be formed post-vocality. (Tulpas formed in a mindscape seem to experience the mindscape more vividly right from the beginning, instead of having to build that bridge later, so there are trade-offs.)

So all I really needed to do to switch was to find the place where I naturally connect most strongly into the body and use it as my doorway.

*Postscript: Iris's Perspective:

Iris: Switching is an individual process even within a system. My sisters strongly encouraged me to try it not long after I became a full member of the system. It was harder on me than Vesper the first time. I was able to take capture the center of awareness easily enough via the concussive method, but having a physical body felt very strange. I was nervous and shaken and my hands were tingling. Ember's wife took one of my hands and the tingling stopped in both. I asked her, "Did you use your magic?" and she confirmed she had used energy manipulation, something my sisters do not believe in.

When I felt slightly less shaken I reached out to my sisters, but they were not present however much I called to them. Fortunately I was able to reactivate Ember by abandoning the front myself. This is not a problem Vesper has ever had, but I have occasionally struggled to contact Ember while fronting and often struggled to reach Vesper.

The second time I switched in, my feet were tingling and another housemate realigned my energy. I do not know what this energy is, but I seem to be much more sensitive to it than either of my sisters.

I have at most felt slightly inauthentic while fronting and that only rarely. My... headspace? mind feel?... is very distinct from either of my sisters, which helps.

I front much less than Vesper, and have slightly less endurance, but still sometimes wake up in control of the body.
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
[Our Progress Report]     [How We Switch]

'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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#22
First of all, it's amazing how different from us your system is while still apparently working in much the same ways! Even your switching, minus the symbolism used in actually switching, seems very similar!

(01-25-2019, 04:16 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Ember: As far as I can tell, the number one factor in success in switching is believing that you did. You have to be certain of the intended outcome of what you are attempting. Anything we try without that certainty may result in not switching at all or in someone controlling the body, but thinking, "Did it work? Who am I? No, really, who am I? Is anyone else here? Ember? Vesper? Hello?"

I think I'll agree that this is the essence of switching. {Edit by Tewi: This is written from the "removed-perspective" of your overarching mind, and does not require the "Host" but the brain itself to do this-} Convincing your mind that it's no longer you but your tulpa, and to then think as them instead - that's really all it is, probably! Of course, "think as them" entails quite a few things (memories, personal feelings, mindset, so many things.. it's quite a powerful transition to be summed up so easily). Still, when unclear about who may be fronting (normally only happens to us when waking up, in the middle of the night at that) it's affirmation that (fronter) is fronting that cements the switch as it's normally done right at the start.

(01-25-2019, 04:16 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: *The Concussive Method:

Ember: From September 23rd to November 30th, we usually created that certainty through shock. We focused on one another, confirming our consent and readiness, making sure that the incoming partner's form was as clear and strong as possible. Then the incoming partner's form leapt at the body while concentrating on shoving the outgoing partner out of the body.

Always with the forcefulness in recent years... We don't recall anyone's account of switching recently that didn't involve forcing the host out of the body by switching in (though I am only recalling you guys and Tulpa001), but we ourselves don't do that. Lumi or the fronter simply dissociates first, normally by visualizing ourselves moving out of and then another into the body. It's probably pure symbolism! The actual "switch" seems to happen as the switcher-in "snaps into place", and then opens their eyes. Symbolism helps your mind get to that point - but I do believe the distilled essence of switching is in between there, somewhere. Regardless, we do the symbolism to prevent confusion of who's fronting and it works for us. Certainly doesn't require moving the physical body at all, but that "snap into place" could be extrapolated to rocking the whole body methinks. Anything to tell (or convince?) the mind the switch has taken place.

Now, our system has always worked on a level of understanding of tulpamancy we call "meta-tulpamancy", not as in metaphysical but rather the "outside the immersion"/"talking about the situation as if you aren't in it" sense of meta, like 4th wall breaking. This is because Lumi's always had an intense desire to explain everything to himself logically, from his beliefs and people's actions to other people's beliefs and experiences. He only even made it through tulpamancy (well before finding it on the internet) because he eventually put aside his requirement he be able to explain things in favor of loving us as separate people no matter what we are. Over the next few years he was able to satisfactorily explain everything going on in his head, but it was that value that we would always be people to him no matter what that kept us grounded - as opposed to explained away. Love was more important than making sense, after all! But now we've got a nice system where the two somehow coincide.

I bring this up because when talking about the detailed mechanics of switching, it seems almost necessary you have this "understanding" of tulpamancy - lest you effectively stumble through the dark, or refuse to enter the dark in the first place. I'd liken it to walking across a suspended rope bridge: We see the bridge, while others who learn to switch (like yourselves) tend to feel your way across with the ropes (affirmations), and some lose their way entirely (freak out.. identity crisis), which is like managing to slide between the ropes and off the bridge. Dangerous! Depending on how solid the host and tulpa's senses of identity were, they may or may not fall too far.. And then others simply cannot see the bridge we speak of, unaware or unwilling to walk in the dark. We do wish to show the way - to explain switching in plain terms - but it seems all but impossible to hold two opposing beliefs, that of how tulpamancy works (in our understanding at least) and that of being immersed in the experience of them being real, separate people. Quite a unique set of circumstances led to us getting here, namely a lot of self-help and philosophy Lumi had been reading years ago. He learned to consider "himself" only a small part of the overarching brain and body, a set of rules to govern the brain, the driver of a car (the car being the body). This perspective we've only ever seen others have after learning to switch, and singlets on the other hand seem extremely resistant to it. But learning to think like this may have been why we had such an easy time learning to switch compared to most others, maybe? It was just changing which set of rules was driving the car... In a sense.

Okay, back to simpler stuff! Sorry!

(01-25-2019, 04:16 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Vesper: I start getting tired after an hour or two of fronting. We haven't pushed the limits of how long I can hold on

You've not? Just for the sake of learning the skill we pushed plenty. In the first days, I believe it would be between two and four hours of fronting before we became so mentally exhausted we also felt physically exhausted. But strangely enough, switching back with Lumi would immediately relieve those symptoms. I believe the tiredness was real though - once or twice we actually went to sleep in the middle of the day rather than switching back! And this is incredibly difficult if not impossible for us normally, we're mostly unable to nap. Within maybe a week or two we were fronting for the better parts of a day (6-8 hours), and it's iffy from there but I want to say under two months (possibly as many as four though, the past's unclear) before we were finally able to front an entire day, sleep, and then wake up refreshed the next day. Immediately from that point we could technically front indefinitely, although of course we wouldn't. A few years later, Lucilyn even fronted for nearly two months straight over our summer break with only one day of Tewi fronting in the middle!

So, our brain was tired from using whatever new muscles were required in switching to stay switched. But seeing as we were... what, 18 or 19?, and you guys were I assume in your late 30s (correct me if I'm wrong), there may be some of that "youthful brain elasticity" at play. The older you get, the less your brain seems to enjoy changing how it works, or working new mental muscles. If that can account for the difference in time our systems can stay switched, then we basically work exactly the same, as far as I can tell from here! Well, some parts I didn't specifically quote were a little different, like we never had issues with Lumi spontaneously re-fronting (except after sleeping, at first). But a looot of it, and important parts, seemed the same. Oh, and we never roleplayed and never will (Lumi can't stand it and his hatred's affected even Lucilyn enough she doesn't do it, lol), but the way Flandre and Tewi spontaneously came into existence was likely - aside from using my different tulpa-upbringing as a mental basis - from all the thinking Lumi did about Touhou characters he liked, how they thought and what they'd be like. While not as predisposing as outright roleplaying, it seems to fill the same prerequisites, teaching your mind some of the ins and outs of "being someone else".

Okay, I think that was about all I had to say! Just had to add some of our thoughts on switching here. We're still trying to work out how to convert our "understanding" of tulpamancy and identities to teaching others how to switch, but this probably helped!
Hi guys, plain text is just me now! We've each got our own accounts: me, Tewi, Flandre, and Lucilyn. We're Luminesce's tulpas.
Here's our "Ask Thread", and here's our Progress Report (You should be able to see all of our accounts on the second page if you want)
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#23
(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: First of all, it's amazing how different from us your system is while still apparently working in much the same ways! Even your switching, minus the symbolism used in actually switching, seems very similar!

Ember: It may be news to you, but isn't to us. Despite our vast differences in beliefs and origins, there have been more times when reading about your system's actual experience of plurality that we've thought, "That sounds like us," than for any other system in this community.

I didn't keep a list, so I can't be more specific than that off the cuff.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: Still, when unclear about who may be fronting (normally only happens to us when waking up, in the middle of the night at that) it's affirmation that (fronter) is fronting that cements the switch as it's normally done right at the start.

Ember: When waking up in the middle of the night, the fronter knows instantly who she is and doesn't question it (except that one time we talked about in a previous PR). All of our confusion over who is fronting comes from either bungled switching efforts, which we've pretty much outgrown, or Vesper's antipathy toward believing that she could really be driving this body when she wants her fictional body and life so badly.

In bungled switches, the fronter has never chosen to try to commit to being one of us, even though that might work. She's always leapt back out, leaving me in front.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: Lumi or the fronter simply dissociates first, normally by visualizing ourselves moving out of and then another into the body.

Ember: If we could dissociate, we would, for mindscape purposes if not for switching. We've never figured out how.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: I bring this up because when talking about the detailed mechanics of switching, it seems almost necessary you have this "understanding" of tulpamancy - lest you effectively stumble through the dark, or refuse to enter the dark in the first place.

Ember: I know you want to help the community, but we find your system's highly rationalist explanations very demoralizing. We've committed to not looking behind the curtain, lest we discover the Wizard is actually a humbug.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: You've not? Just for the sake of learning the skill we pushed plenty. In the first days, I believe it would be between two and four hours of fronting before we became so mentally exhausted we also felt physically exhausted. But strangely enough, switching back with Lumi would immediately relieve those symptoms. I believe the tiredness was real though - once or twice we actually went to sleep in the middle of the day rather than switching back! And this is incredibly difficult if not impossible for us normally, we're mostly unable to nap. Within maybe a week or two we were fronting for the better parts of a day (6-8 hours), and it's iffy from there but I want to say under two months (possibly as many as four though, the past's unclear) before we were finally able to front an entire day, sleep, and then wake up refreshed the next day. Immediately from that point we could technically front indefinitely, although of course we wouldn't. A few years later, Lucilyn even fronted for nearly two months straight over our summer break with only one day of Tewi fronting in the middle!

Vesper: I couldn't possibly go that long, though not for lack of endurance and not for our system's lack of neuroplasticity. The number of times I've woken up fronting strongly implies that the body welcomes my control. But I only front full clothed and away from mirrors. I think Ember is very cute, but our body disgusts me if it feels like mine, so I try my best to tune it out. I couldn't front much longer than I do without needing to either attend to some vile bodily thing, talk to someone who doesn't know I'm not Ember, or take care of some responsibility of Ember's that I have no interest in. I absolutely prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to fronting.

Two months! I would never pretend to be Ember, but I'm not telling her mum that I'm not her daughter either. She's not my mum, but that would rend any mother's heart.

Switching back immediately relieves my fronting fatigue as well, though the mental fatigue of the body being awake too long hits non-fronters harder.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: you guys were I assume in your late 30s (correct me if I'm wrong)

Ember: Our body is thirty-eight and I've been with it the whole time. Calculating interdimensionally is a little dodgy, but Vesper identifies as about fifty and Iris as about twenty-two. So "we guys" were not, just me.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: we never had issues with Lumi spontaneously re-fronting

Vesper: For the first few weeks, I was afraid that if I lowered my guard for a moment that I would gradually drift into being Ember. But we've only spontaneously switched back maybe twice? And I don't recall the circumstances of the second one. It hasn't happened in months and I don't think it's really an issue.

(01-25-2019, 05:16 AM)Reisen Wrote: we never roleplayed and never will (Lumi can't stand it and his hatred's affected even Lucilyn

Ember: I hate dungeon crawls, frequent dice-rolling, frequent or lengthy combat, anti-social player characters, and a number of other things that are nearly standard in what is called roleplaying but isn't. Does Lumi hate D&D-style crap, actual improvisational acting and storytelling, or both?
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
[Our Progress Report]     [How We Switch]

'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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#24
(01-25-2019, 08:12 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Ember: When waking up in the middle of the night, the fronter knows instantly who she is and doesn't question it

Yes, same here. I was simply saying the only time it does happen to us. Waking up not immediately being 100% sure who is fronting happens maybe one in a hundred days to us, and still only takes a brief moment to recall. Also, we naturally wake up briefly between REM cycles (most people aren't quite conscious at that point, but we are), so it's more like one in a thousand... lol.

(01-25-2019, 08:12 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Ember: I know you want to help the community, but we find your system's highly rationalist explanations very demoralizing. We've committed to not looking behind the curtain, lest we discover the Wizard is actually a humbug.

Hah.. is that so. Even from the system so much like ours...
Yes, that's the common sentiment on the matter. Alright, we'll shelf the meta-tulpamancy for now, then. I suppose the ability to hold conflicting beliefs side by side really is too rare to rely on others having. That's really too bad.. It's rather enlightening to be in this rare position we find ourselves in, so many of the issues people face don't affect us. But perhaps it's just too hard to get here, harder than dealing with the issues individually.

(01-25-2019, 08:12 AM)Ember.Vesper Wrote: Ember: I hate dungeon crawls, frequent dice-rolling, frequent or lengthy combat, anti-social player characters, and a number of other things that are nearly standard in what is called roleplaying but isn't. Does Lumi hate D&D-style crap, actual improvisational acting and storytelling, or both?

Eee, well, we have nothing against roleplaying so it always feels rude to say this, but roleplaying in any form (even so much as *hugs*) feels terribly fake and ridiculous to us. It's hardly even a thing of preference - Lucilyn often badly wants to return virtual hugs or so on, but it's seemingly hard-coded into our brain to hate roleplaying. We've got friends who will write stories back and forth to each other (that sort of RP) and enjoy it greatly, and that's nice for them and we've nothing against it. But just the essence of the concept - pretending not-reality is real - offends some part of our being fairly deep down. Also it's purely coincidence, but Lumi also dislikes board games (or paper and pencil games) because they're not active/immersive enough for him. He's been playing video games since he was 4 though, so that may be why.

Still, he's watched people online play D&D (two separate groups of rather fun and creative people), and that was fine. It really can be a lot of fun, as can RP in general. Unfortunately we've ended up allergic to actually doing it ourselves. :\
Hi guys, plain text is just me now! We've each got our own accounts: me, Tewi, Flandre, and Lucilyn. We're Luminesce's tulpas.
Here's our "Ask Thread", and here's our Progress Report (You should be able to see all of our accounts on the second page if you want)
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#25
Butterfly Effect:

Vesper: Ember wanted to write about all this five months ago and I told her to skip ahead to the meat of our story. But Piano gave her occasion to tell it after all, and an organizing theme.

(03-21-2019, 11:46 PM)Piano Wrote: what little thing that occurred in your life can either be traced back as the cause of your system, or something that changed it in major ways?

Ember: I've had a ton of these -- a chance opportunity, a conflicted decision, a sentence someone said in passing that lodged deep in my soul. Hmm... which have had the biggest impact on plurality?

I had a very casual interest in roleplaying for many years. I thought it sounded like fun, but I had never tried it because it's a group activity and I didn't know anyone else who was involved.

I was reading a transwoman's transition blog about thirteen years ago. I had read hundreds over the previous seven years, so that was nothing special. But unlike hundreds before, she mentioned that she would be attending a trans conference in Atlanta soon. I had never heard of such a thing. I had begun medical transition six years earlier, but I had never socialized with other trans people. I decided to go.

At the conference, a woman approached me and we became friends. She lived hundreds of miles away, but we stayed in touch and I visited her for ten days at a time on four separate occasions over the next four years. She had run Dungeons & Dragons for over twenty years and during one visit, she organized a game just for me. I was enthralled. But my efforts at joining anything locally were fitful. I asked around, but I didn't have the right contacts back then.

A few years later, an online playtest was announced for a new My Little Pony roleplaying system. My wife applied to join and was accepted. She loved it and gushed about the campaign constantly for months. Her GM talked to her extensively about roleplaying theory and she absorbed it all like a sponge. She knew I was interested in roleplaying but only willing to play face-to-face, so she offered to run a game for me. And she was brilliant at it.

I was less brilliant. I struggled with making decisions, with understanding character motivations, with all of the problems of being the protagonist of the story. I asked my wife for advice and she said I should know my character well enough to instantly know how they would respond in any situation. So I started trying to build an emulation of the character in my head, to properly understand their thoughts and emotions.

Some months later, I found the Atlanta Gamer Guild and signed up for a game. The day before the game, my wife attempted suicide. I almost cancelled, but she was in the hospital and there was nothing I could do for her. I struggled enormously connecting with my character that game until she was suddenly and unexpectedly turned into a pixie. After that, playing her was easy and wonderful. I experimented with the enchanted pixie concept several more times, which eventually resulted in my most beloved character, Chloe.

Over the course of hundreds of sessions and dozens of characters, I got better and better at building emulations. Eventually I started calling the emulation process "The Becoming" and sometimes described the characters as "real personalities with fictional lives".

My wife's mental illnesses eventually sour her on most things she enjoys and roleplaying was no exception. She stopped GMing when the emotional breakdowns got too bad. I still wanted to play with her, so I tried GMing for her (and was terrible). She decided she didn't want a solo game, so I recruited a friend from AGG. Then she decided she didn't want to roleplay at all. But I had already involved someone else, so I opened announced the game to AGG. Vesper's GM joined the game. The original inspiration for Iris was Chalcia, the girlfriend of her character in that first campaign.

The friend I had invited to play with my wife had been planning to move out of state, but after meeting Vesper's GM on account of my game, moved in with her instead and remained local. She subsequently became Iris' GM. I had a hard time engaging her in my game, as her character was a very secretive and emotionally withdrawn vampire. To draw her out, I introduced a clumsy and hapless newborn vampire NPC to be a sort of little sister to her. With considerable hesitation, I gave her a name that I had previously only used as a nickname or username for myself. But "Vesper" just sounded right for the character. I had more fun playing her than any of my other NPCs and all my players responded well to her.

I had a serious falling out with Vesper's GM that ended my first campaign. We didn't speak for ten months, until Iris' campaign began and we were both playing in it. Even then, we were tense and barely interacted the first few sessions. But we eventually warmed to one another that she hesitantly asked to join my next campaign and I hesitantly decided to give her another chance.

Iris' campaign had many troubles. The tenth session of Iris' campaign is the first time I can remember my characters talking to me directly. At the start of the session, I was initiating The Becoming when Iris said, "I'm done here. You're on your own." And her presence was simply gone for the rest of the session, leaving me shocked that such a thing was possible, and floundering without the certainty of how she would respond to any situation. The difference was obvious enough that, at the end of the session, the GM asked me if I wanted to play a different character and I said I'd let her know. On the way home, I tried to think of a new character and Thistle burst in, "Pick me! Pick me!" But the GM didn't like Thistle, so I withdrew from the game instead.

When my next campaign was starting to wrap up, Vesper's GM asked me what I was doing next and I mentioned several possibilities. I mentioned running a game in London, covering Chloe's continuing story after the campaign in which she was my PC. I didn't think I was a good enough GM yet; I wanted to practice more before doing something so near to my heart. But she wanted London, so she persuaded my other players to unite in favor of it.

I knew I needed to be careful with how I presented Chloe in the game. GMPCs have a terrible reputation. The PCs ended up loving her eventually, but for the first dozen sessions, the campaign was driven by Iris instead, who I discovered liked being an NPC in my game. It's not something we talked about at the time, but I could feel her positive response, so different than in her own campaign.

I explained to Vesper's GM that I only GMed so that the kind of games I wanted to play in would exist. That's why my games are so heavily focused on characters instead of plots. She offered to run a single player Vampire: the Masquerade game for me, in hopes that playing more would reconcile me to more conventional GMing. I had done a little V:tM LARPing and played a bit of Vampire: the Requiem. But I hadn't enjoyed it. I liked the idea of World of Darkness, but I'd given up on it, decided it wasn't for me. She said hers would be different. So I trepidantly decided to give her a chance. I thought about all the vampires I had played. The only one I had ever enjoyed was Vesper, so I decided to adapt her for V:tM. The setting was still London, since the GM was a bigger Anglophile than me.

The GM told me that my character needed to consent to becoming a vampire, that in her games vampire were smart enough to choose to not make enemies with superpowers. I couldn't imagine why anyone would consent to becoming one of "The Damned", as the game manuals say. But I designed Vesper to be as willing as I could imagine. And I told the GM we could play through her making the recruitment pitch to Vesper. If Vesper consented, we could try a campaign.

In two hours, Vesper was willing. In three hours, she was eager. It took four hours to play through to the Embrace, by which point Vesper was thinking, "Hey! Some of us are still aging over here!" And in eight months, she wasn't just a character.

But throughout those eight months, my relationship with the GM out-of-character grew increasingly stormy as we built toward another inevitable long-term falling out. At several points, one of us might have walked away from the campaign. One time I showed up to play and she was shocked. Based on our email exchanges, she had assumed I hated her and didn't want to see her again. By this point she had withdrawn from my campaign, walking out in the middle of a session. I ended up agreeing to run a horrible spinoff campaign for her friends to encourage her to keep running V:tM. Then she said she was nearly out of ideas for V:tM and wanted to do Shadowrun instead. I put her off by suggesting we keep playing V:tM into the future and introduce Shadowrun elements when relevant.

Developing headmates was probably inevitable as soon as I started The Becoming, but there are so many places my life could have gone differently. I almost didn't read the blog that mentioned the conference. I almost decided against going to the conference. My wife might have been too sick or depressed that day to apply for the playtest or might not have been accepted. She might have given different roleplaying advice or I might have interpreted it differently. I might have missed my first AGG game and never made Chloe, and hence never GMed the still ongoing campaign based on her, in which Iris has appeared so prominently. My wife might have turned against roleplaying faster, in which case I don't know when or if I would have started GMing, or slower, in which case I might have been satisfied GMing for her. If I had started GMing in AGG under different circumstances, I might not have attracted the attention of Vesper's GM. Iris' campaign probably wouldn't have happened if her GM hadn't met Vesper's through my game and therefore stayed in Atlanta. I wouldn't have reconciled with Vesper's GM if we hadn't been played together in Iris' campaign. I nearly didn't risk letting her play in another of my games. I wouldn't have started the Dresden Files: London campaign so early without pressure from her, which means I wouldn't have started playing Iris again, which has been critically important to who she has become. Vesper's GM's first idea was to run a Dresden Files game for Chloe instead of V:tM, but she decided my regard for continuity would be too limiting to her. The healthy and rational course of action would have been to walk away from a such a toxic relationship as I developed with her. My friends and family told me again and again to walk away, but I loved Vesper too much to listen to them.
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
[Our Progress Report]     [How We Switch]

'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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#26
Amazing. Well written Ember, I appreciate the history and perspective.
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#27
Vesper: It’s been three months since we published the last installment of our story. I intended to write one every week, but Ember’s life interferes. I still prefer a chronological approach, even if we never catch up.

Ember: ...which sometimes means backing up to cover things we missed.

Secret Origin of “Vesper”:

Ember: When I needed a username on a website nearly eight years ago, I fretted a while – quite a while, actually – and chose Vesper, from the Latin word for evening. It felt appropriate and as far as I could remember, I had never seen it used as a personal name before. My interaction with that community was primarily in person and some people did call me that back then.

My headmate Vesper is my third character of that name. The original, almost five years ago, did not live on any version of Earth and the name wasn’t intended as uncommon. The second and third are canonically named after Vesper Lynd from the James Bond novel Casino Royale. My headmate was canonically born in 1964, so neither of the movie versions had been made yet.

Recently, I stumbled across the actual first time I heard the name. Over twenty years ago, I read at least three books of the Vesper Holly Adventures by Lloyd Alexander. I remembered the books and forgot the name of the protagonist.

Secret Origin of Vesper:

Ember: About six months after the start of Vesper’s campaign, her GM emailed asking about her musical tastes. I had been dutifully researching goth music for months for the sake of the role, so I was able to give an acceptable answer. But then I wrote:

Quote:There are distinct limits to how much detail I can give you. Music is an area where Vesper and I have never achieved rapport; we have no common ground, no similarity in tastes. I go on Youtube and say, "Really? *This* is what you like?" And she smiles and shrugs and looks away.

I remember Vesper as suddenly surging to full vocality, some seven weeks later. But then, I also don’t recall being that surprised. It’s possible I casually interacted with many of my characters back then, they just all remained invested in their own worlds and lives until Vesper spontaneously took an interest in mine.

21 September 2018, Friday:

The Merest Touch of You:

Ember: I woke up Friday morning, sat back in bed against the headboard, and talked to Vesper. She manifested beside me, still quite amorous. She touched me gently on the leg and an electric thrill ran through me. There weren’t any of the normal physical sensations associated with a touch, yet it was one of the most profound and affecting touches I had ever experienced. I instantly understood why so many headmates are in relationships with one another. Someone inside can connect with you in a way no one outside ever can.

But.

I recognized that just one affectionate touch had put me in an altered headspace. And from my BDSM experience, I know you have to finish negotiating before you begin a scene. So much as I wanted her in that moment, I recognized that it wouldn’t be responsible for me to consent to anything I had never consented to before while in this headspace. I told Vesper we would have to wait.

Vesper: She knew what I wanted, of course, but I really hadn’t intended or expected to have such a powerful effect with a casual, if affectionate, touch. I was disappointed that she turned me down *again*, but it was still a pretty cool experience.

Other People, Finally:

Vesper: Ember had been practically a hermit all week, holed up with me and a computer while on the outs with her wife. But Friday evening, she was running one of her weekly roleplaying games. We had agreed that I would withdraw for the game and allow her to concentrate on GMing.

Ember didn’t care as much for this group as her Saturday group. They were less serious, more boisterous, and bantered a great deal amongst themselves. This didn’t allow Ember’s characters to be as prominent and playing her characters is her primary reason for GMing. Also, she greatly prefers pathos, melodrama, and angst over light-hearted banter and having a good time with friends out-of-character.

I, on the other hand, found the energy and laughter intoxicating. I tried not to be a distraction, but after five days of being forced hard almost every waking moment, my consciousness had practically become a reflex of our mind. I kept popping forward, giddy from being around people who were having fun socializing.

Ember: It was so weird. She wasn’t acting like the person I remembered. Plus, she had been surly and morose more often than not all week, so the sudden turn around was jarring.

Vesper: This was the first of many times I told her, ‘Don’t step on my good mood.’ While talking during a break, I asserted that, while I had every right to deviate if I so chose, this wasn’t deviation because there was, admittedly limited, precedent for it in the established parts of my life back home. As a story protagonist, the parts of my life that were focused on tended to be the least pleasant parts, but now I was able to start filling in details of what I was like when hanging out with mundane friends back home instead of straightening out supernatural crap.

22 September 2018, Saturday:

Telling Ember’s Friends and Family, Part Two:

Ember: My Saturday game lasts all day as often as our schedules permit. On this particular occasion, two of the players were out and only J and T, the two people who I had told about Vesper more than a year earlier, were present. I saw this as an opportunity to remind them about Vesper and update them about our exciting discovery of tulpamancy.

Vesper: I wanted J to know more about me because I felt he could be a good friend (and maybe snuggle buddy, except I wouldn’t want to complicate his friendship with Ember). I knew T was very lonely and I was concerned he might want to make a tulpa if he knew such a thing was possible. I was reluctant for Ember to take on the moral burden of allowing him to know about tulpamancy. We discussed the matter at length, and even intermittently during the game, but eventually we decided that it was better to talk to them separately, so that they weren’t guarding and adjusting their reactions based on one another.

Ember: As Vesper proved unable to go dormant for long during the previous night’s game, she was manifest beside me for a lot of this session.  There were a few times during the game when I zoned out due to talking to Vesper when I should have been GMing, but when I inquired of J and T about it later, they didn’t remember me being unusually distracted.

This was one of my first times viewing Vesper’s form alongside flesh and blood people. After days of isolation, her presence had seemed pretty powerful, but it was tenuous and ethereal beside the coarse intensity of the flesh.

23 September 2018, Sunday:

Becoming a Couple:

Vesper: Early Sunday afternoon, I was once again feeling amorous. Ember was attracted to me and found the idea of being with me appealing, but she remained concerned it wasn’t right, that I wasn’t ready, that it could harm me or our relationship. Eventually, I grabbed Ember by the arm and tried to pull her to the bedroom. Physically, my form seemed to be nearly a match for her body as we tugged back and forth.

Now that I’ve set that down in writing, I realize it was extremely inappropriate as a wooing technique. There may be some detail of context I’m not remembering, but I’m inclined to be ashamed of that now.

Ember: It was weird to be losing my footing and hauled forward in tug-o-war with someone I could only see in my mind’s eye. I convinced her to stop and we talked. After a few minutes we came to an agreement that satisfied me. We could try being intimate, with the understanding that there would never be any recriminations or regrets. If it didn’t work out, if we didn’t want to continue, we could just set it aside and go back to what we had before.

Vesper: And then we made love for two hours. It was nice. It was more tenuous than I would have liked, but as a visualization exercise, making love has a lot to recommend itself, with large payoffs for small improvements in clarity.

On the other hand, it’s easier to obtain clarity in short bursts. Sometimes a single electric touch is more intense and meaningful than prolonged cuddling.

Ember: As of this past Saturday, we’ve been a couple for six months.

Telling Ember’s Friends and Family, Part 3:

Ember: After we finished, I told Vesper, “Well now we have to tell C.” C was polyamorous long before we met and I accepted her lifestyle when we got married. I knew I was free to have other partners, I had just never clicked with anyone else and didn’t feel a need to look. By the rules of polyamory, it’s only cheating if you hide your other partners. So for years, I had dutifully reported every time I was attracted to a friend or they were attracted to me, and every time a friend had gotten overly handsy during a hug. Meanwhile, my wife invited three of her other partners to move in with us. And a couple of their partners. Kind of a different approach, hmm?

Last time I had seen C, a week before, she had told me she didn't want to see me again without a relationship counselor present. I had tried to make an appointment, but ran into trouble. On Thursday, messaging back and forth, we decided to save some money and try the same exercises on our own that she was currently using with her other partners and their relationship therapist. We had arranged that I would return Sunday evening.

Vesper: I was significantly less tuned in to polyamory than Ember. I wasn’t particularly concerned about ‘cheating’ on Sax, given that he’s in another world and I may never see him again. But given Ember’s marital woes, I didn’t want my initial introduction to be as ‘the other woman’. So we agreed that Ember would tell C about me that night, but hold off a few days on telling her about our relationship.
Ember - Host   |   Vesper - Soulbond (since ~12 May 2017)   |   Iris - Soulbond (since ~5 December 2015)
[Our Progress Report]     [How We Switch]

'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.' - The Velveteen Rabbit
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