According to the Observer's Formspring answers, the Collective has been around for a very long time, existing at the time of World War II in the 1940's, and most likely a very long time before then. The Collective's numbers are unquantifiable, but there are several prominent members. The Collective is described as a limb of the Administrator. In DEATHTRAPEXODUS, Firebrand reveals that the Administrator gives them "great power", yet deprives them of their free will. The Collective exists in a separate realm, where time moves non-linearly.
Each member has their own obligations, and each appears to be following different people. The Observer follows Noah and Deadhead appears to have been following Sebastian, the writer of Karl's journal. There is also some evidence to support that Mr.Scars was/is following Mary Asher, although this is not confirmed.
Similarly, it's suggested each member possesses a living host to live in the real world, which "catalyzes [their] power and function."
Creator Adam Rosner described the Collective on his Tumblr account  thusly: "What the Collective truly are exists beyond our plane of reality. They are a group of unlucky individuals turned into tools, cursed to be used as hosts by artificial, parasitic versions of themselves that are programmed toward a common goal by the big boss. A Collective member’s essence is essentially a corrupted copy of the host imbued with a kind of artificial intelligence by the Administrator along with ultimate subservience and a specific directive.
They are the Administrator’s agents that do his dirty work, he vicariously affects the timeline indirectly through them. The Administrator controls the Collective member which puppets the host, so it’s less of an alter ego and more of a proxy controlling another proxy. Their influential abilities transcend the boundaries of linear time, albeit within a set of rules based on the subsistence of living hosts, the occurrence of key life events, the reliance on current information, and the Administrator’s expression of will based on such."
The following bits of information also come directly from Adam Rosner's Tumblr account: "Each Collective member, given that their host body is alive, has a similar limited set of abilities available to be used across the timeline of their body’s life. Some of the abilities include: astral projection, varying degrees of possession of their host, telepathy, clairvoyance, and time travel (which is allowed once per member and for a specific purpose). Firebrand has effectively overclocked himself to bypass those limitations set by the Administrator and can go beyond Noah’s body’s existence on the timeline."
 "While their vessel is alive and all cognitive control has been taken from them, Collective members have a limited time travel capability; they can only travel along the timeline within the lifespan of their vessel. and although they are able to see every moment of their vessel’s life, they can only actually travel this timeline once. Firebrand, however, has no cap on his ability to travel due to his severance from the source, and this causes many problems for the Administrator."
 "While the vessel is alive, they are first haunted by visions of their Collective self. In this state, they still have control over their body but encounter fugue states where the collective self can operate through them for a brief window. There is always at least one important life event that involves the Collective entity. They are tormented by this specter in various ways, and it ruins their life. depending on their mental fortitude, this progressively gets worse and worse until there comes a point when they are broken and susceptible enough to be fully converted into a Collective puppet for the Cdministrator, their personality is caged and they essentially no longer have free will. They may feel like they do, but it is an illusion as they are now merely the host to a malevolent entity piloting their body. Their personality can effectively be turned off and on at will when the code finds it convenient. When dead, their personality dies with the brain and only the code remains, returning to whence it came. Semblances of the vessel’s life and memories learned by the collective parasite are what give them their intangible form that you are able to see in videos and images. In this form they are essentially useless to the administrator as they no longer have any real influence on the physical world. They have failed their objective, their session has ended. They now only exist as discarded puppets in the administrator’s realm only appearing in visuals and visions, their practicality expended. However, if the conditions are right, they may assume form in special areas where the administrator has power. They are soulless husks there, automatons run by code with cached RAM where personality fragments pertaining to their vessel’s life can manifest."
Although it has never being specified, this group of entities don't have a specific number of members or former members. The ones below are entities with a vessel (a human possessed by the entity) and a "Session" to complete, with the only exception being the Administrator.
- Administrator: Leader of the Collective and creator of its members' consciousnesses. His intentions with our world and the people he stalks remains unknown, but it can be assumed that he works directly with the fear and psychological shock of his targets. He also dictates obligations that the members of the Collective exist to carry out, known as "sessions".
- Observer: Most well-known member. Wears glasses and has long hair. Referred to as "the Eyes". His original title was "the Sentinel". The contents of a package sent by the Observer that were tweeted by Noah on November 9, 2012 confirm that Kevin Haas is the Observer's vessel.
- Deadhead: Wears a skull mask. Most likely followed Sebastian and is possibly following Karl Maxwell. Deadhead's name comes from the German word Totenkopf, which means "death's head". He is referred to by the Observer as "the Nationalist". He is confirmed in the "boat" entry of Milo's journal to be Henka Visæ.
- Cursor: Cursor is Latin for "messenger"; she is the only known female member of the Collective. She appears with X's over her eyes, and she is referred to by the Observer as "the Selfish". She is confirmed in Obituary to be Mary Asher.
- Mr. Scars: Named for the scars on his arms. Referred to by the Observer as a "pawn", as well as "the Burdened" and "the One Who Kills Mary". Mary desperately asks Noah who Mr. Scars is in Mary Asher Phone Call. It was confirmed in Milo's Tape that Mr. Scars' vessel is, or was, Milo Asher.
- Persolus: Persolus is Latin for "quite alone"; his visage is that of an old man, and he is referred to by the Observer as "the Hermit". In DEATHTRAPEXODUS it is almost certainly confirmed that Persolus is Karl Maxwell.
- Swain: The person wearing the theater mask. He is one of the most enigmatic members of the Collective so far. DEATHTRAPEXODUS suggests that under his happy theater mask, he wears a sad one. He is referred to as "the Lover".
- Firebrand: The figure with pinhole eyes. He is also frequently shown with burn scars on his face and eyes in the palms of his hands. He is referred to by the Observer as "the Stubborn". Firebrand tried to save Noah instead of assisting the Observer in "taking" Noah in "November 11th". "The Live Stream Incident" reveals Firebrand to be Noah Maxwell, either from the future or an alternate timeline.
During the Valentine's Day 2012 stream, the Observer tweeted several images of each member of the Collective, along with a title for each and a text symbol of a chess piece.
Initially, the chess pieces were meant to represent the "game" that is being played by the members of the Collective. Each "player" (which includes the Collective members and several other people) was represented by a chess piece, either black or white.
Abolition of specific character roles
The representation of individual characters as specific chess pieces was redacted 2013, when, in an answer to an out-of-game user-based message on his tumblr, creator Adam Rosner mentioned that the chess pieces likely represent a general dichotomy: the Collective as black pieces and the humans as white pieces. In 2015, he reiterated this, explaining that they were initially assigned "arbitrarily" and that in the continuing narrative, "white pieces metaphorically represent humans and black pieces represent their collective counterparts."
Thought these roles are now known to be redundant, when the chess pieces were first introduced, several Collective members were portrayed as being on opposing teams. Notably, Firebrand, who as of the INTERCEPTION video has been revealed to be on "[Noah's] side" (and thus apparently in direct opposition to the rest of the Collective), was believed to be the "king" of the white pieces.
During the Valentines' Day Live Stream, the Observer told Noah that he was a chess piece, but didn't specify one in particular.
The tables below display the deduced roles prior to their abolition.
|The Administrator||The Administrator||♚|
|Described as "onedividedbyzero".|
|Describes himself as "asentinelbytradepasthisexpirationdate".|
|Mr. Scars||The Burdened||♖|
|Described as "theonewhokillsmary", hinting towards him "Ending" Mary Asher's "Session".|
|Taken by the Observer / Black Rook.|
Here are the videos posted by the Collective or its members, or videos by Noah in which Collective videos appear, in chronological order:
- The Token Letter (appears as a file on a USB from the Observer, labeled "ULTIMATUM")
- Nature Trail Visit (appears on Noah's camera once he is "taken" by the Collective)
- November 11th (appears on Noah's camera when he is "taken" for the third time)
- The Live Stream Incident (a brief video of a clock in the style of Collective videos appears)
- DEUS EX MACHINA