Frequently Asked Questions About the Legion of Net.Heroes

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LNH FAQ Version 4.0
Administered by Drew Perron
The FAQ was last updated: 2014-06-07

Contents

Introduction[edit]

The LNH? What's the LNH?[edit]

A short definition of the LNH? That would be equivalent to pouring the sands of the Sahara into a half-filled thimble. It would be comparable to funneling the waters of the Pacific into a broken wineglass. It would be like placing the collected works of Dave Van Domelen into the onboard memory of an Atari 2600... however, this is the task you have set for us, and therefore we shall endeavor to elucidate.

The LNH, or Legion of Net.Heroes, is a society of those beings who emulate the spirit of adventure and undying quest for justice while clothed in spandex and a never-ending stream of bad jokes. In short, we are super-heroes, or at the very least authors who spend what spare time we have writing about super-heroes. Our stories are dramatic (Beige Midnight), comedic (Kung-Fu Holmes), dramatically comedic (Ultimate Mercenary v20), comedically dramatic (Possum-Man: Relinquished), adventurous (Digital JUMP!), impressionist (Cover Gallery), satirical (Looniverse Y), freeform (All-New Legion of Net.Heroes), absurd-coming-of-age-mystery-parodic (The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man), or simply strange (Those Darn Vectors!). They all take place in the same multiverse, and authors and characters often interact with each other.

Anyone can join! Guidelines for writing can be found later on in this FAQ and then conveniently ignored. Your best policy is to read some of the stories before writing your own. If you have any questions, just ask! You can post in the group for quickest response, or just to start a discussion. Most authors are willing to respond to e-mail questions about their stories, and many will even let you use their characters in stories of your own. But you'll have to bring your own dish to the company potluck.

Welcome to the LNH. I hope this isn't the last we hear from you! Good luck, and get reading.

Why should I care about the LNH?[edit]

Well, if you don't, there's a good chance that a flock of kiwis will sit on your house. But seriously...

For readers, the LNH is a superhero universe that isn't run by corporate interests or marketing conglomerates, but by people who just really like Fun Comics. Also, some of the nicest net.people can be found in the LNH. Try us, you might just make a friend. (Besides, it's cheaper than therapy.)

For writers, the LNH is a place where you can create great adventures, without the pressures of being serious, formal, or good. This is not to say that LNH writers aren't good. They're wonderful, but that is not a prerequisite. Plus, it's a place where you can do the kinds of stories that you always wanted to see, and create the kinds of characters that really should exist.

All right, how do I get started?[edit]

Goody, another victim... mwahaha. Anyway, the best way to get started is to read. Poke around rec.arts.comics.creative, our home newsgroup, and get a feel for what's going on. Those unfamiliar with newsgroups will have all their questions answered in the next section.

If you like what you see, you can check out some older stories! The Eyrie Archive at https://archives.eyrie.org/racc/lnh/ has all the classics through 2006. More recent stories are available in the general RACC archives at https://lists.eyrie.org/pipermail/racc/ organized by month, and can be searched via Google by starting your search with "site:lists.eyrie.org" (minus the quotes).

Whenever you like, you can join the LNH. All you need to do is write! Create a single character, a whole team, or just write the characters in the shared toybox. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and show the world how creative you can be. For advice on who, what, and how to write, see #Writing, Etiquette, and Netiquette.

So... what exactly is a "newsgroup"?[edit]

A newsgroup is a discussion group on Usenet, a giant decentralized retro-cool network of bulletin boards all over the world. It's independent of governments, corporations, and The Man.

rec.arts.comics.creative (or "RACC"), the LNH's primary home, is dedicated to comics-related original creative writing. (See the RACC FAQ for details!) It's a place without spam or ads, where an assortment of different fictional universes rub shoulders.

Sounds cool! How do I get on?[edit]

Probably the easiest way is Google Groups, at https://groups.google.com . RACC can be read and posted to at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/rec.arts.comics.creative .

You can also post to RACC by email. Russ Allbery has set up a mail-to-news gateway for RACC that can be posted through by sending your post to [rec.arts.comics.creative@eyrie.org or racc@eyrie.org. And you can get posts from the group by mail by signing up at https://lists.eyrie.org/mailman/listinfo/racc .

But if you want the most flexibility, you're going to want to get a newsreader program and connect it to a newsserver. There are newsreaders out there for every OS and platform, and newsreading functionality is built into Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook Express. Many ISPs have their own newsservers, though Comcast doesn't. There are lots of good free ones for text newsgroups, and feel free to ask on the group if you're not sure how to find one.

Oh, and if you just want to read, there's a very handsome interface known as RACCowrimo, at http://wil.alambre.ca/racc/ . Stop by and check out the cover gallery!

Where can I find out more about the LNH?[edit]

Right here on the wiki! :D You can go back to the Main Page and check out all the helpful links, or hit Special:Random and see what comes up!

If you're looking for more beyond that, or aren't sure where to find something, ask in the newsgroup! We're friendly and ready to help.

Writing, Etiquette, and Netiquette[edit]

Usability: Should I make up my own characters? Can I use other people's characters? What about Spider-Man or Superman?[edit]

Making up your own characters is one hundred percent encouraged – that's how the LNH started, after all!

Using other people's characters is completely okay - as long as their creator has said that it's okay. Some characters have been given up completely for public use, while others are usable with permission, and yet others are completely reserved by a single writer. See Character Usability.

As for Spider-Man, Superman, and other characters trademarked by giant corporations, the LNH doesn't use 'em. Much as above, we prefer to get people's permission before using their characters, and that's pretty hard when you have to navigate a labyrinth of lawyers and license fees. Plus, there's a lot of really good sites out there for writing and reading fanfic, like Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net, which is why RACC focuses on original fiction.

Storytelling Universes and Settings: Where do I set my story?[edit]

The stories of the LNH have spread across many worlds. For convenience, these worlds are often categorized as separate "imprints", along the lines of the different publishing imprints that comic book companies use. There are three imprints in particular that the new writer will likely want to focus on:

  • LNH20: Created in 2012 to combine the best of the original LNH with everything that we want to see in modern comics – diversity, new ideas, positivity, and fun! With a wide cast of characters and a wide-open world, anyone can jump in!
  • Classic LNH: The original and still champion! An enormous universe! Years of history! And a character with a silly name for every occasion!
  • LNHY: Simple, yet powerful, and it's easy for anyone to contribute – since every writer only gets one member of the LNH! Plus: Social and political satire!

In all three of these worlds, the LNH is headquartered in the city of Net.ropolis (though in LNH20 it's more often spelled Netropolis; see Net.Names below). However, stories can happen all over the world – and beyond!

Other LNH imprints that you might see from time to time include:

  • NTB: The Net.Trenchcoat Brigade, a Vertigo-inspired take on the Classic LNH focusing on a loose organization of mystical, cynical, drunken bastards.
  • LUNA: Lunaverse, a similarly urban fantasy take on LNH20.
  • LNH2: An alternate-future imprint focusing primarily on the grown-up children of present-day LNHers.

No-longer-active LNH-associated imprints include OSD (The Order of St. Doomas), PULP (Prewar Ultrahuman Literary Pantheon), LNHX (Martin Phipps's rebooted LNH), LF (Ben Rawluk's Net.League of Heroes), and probably some others, I dunno.

Titles and Series: What do I call my story?[edit]

There are two equally good options for the new writer. What you pick depends on what kind of story you want to write!

First, you can write an issue (or seven) of one of the LNH's anyone-can-write anthology series. Just choose a universe and pick the one that's right for your story:

Classic LNH:

LNH20:

LNHY:

Second, you can create a series of your own! Don't be afraid to make a new title in any of the imprints and fill it with adventures.

Crossovers and Cascades: Can I join in on a story that's already happening?[edit]

While some stories are single-author works planned out in advance, others are looking for people to join in!

Crossovers are stories with a larger effect on the shared universe that other stories can "cross over" into. Often they have some kind of plot hook that can be used as a springboard into your take on the central concept.

Chaotic Add-On Cascades are stories where one writer posts the first part, then another picks it up from there and post a second part, and yet another posts a third part, and so on. They can usually be jumped into at any time.

If you're not sure whether a certain story is a crossover or a cascade, just ask!

I'm set to start writing. What are the rules of the LNH?[edit]

THERE ARE NO RULES. But! Here are some helpful guidelines for how to have fun and make friends:

  1. Respect others' characters. One of the neat things about a shared universe is that certain characters can pop up and guest star with almost any other character. But if you want to use other people's characters, you gotta make sure you're using 'em right. Some simple ways to do that include:
    • Reading their wiki entry.
    • Reading other stories they've appeared in, especially recent ones and ones by their creator and/or primary writer.
    • Talk to the character's creator and/or primary writer.
    • Treat them with as much respect as you treat your own characters.
  2. Be careful with huge changes. Another neat thing about a shared universe is that events from one series can affect events in another. However, when you're playing in a common sandbox, you're going to want to be careful that you don't knock over somebody else's castle. If you're going to do something that has a big effect on the LNH, the Looniverse, other people's characters, or even your own (if they're involved in other people's plots), talk about it. Give your fellow writers advance warning of what's going to happen, and be flexible; if your plans are going to disrupt someone else's plans, be willing to work with them – it's entirely possible that your plans can work together, creating an even more interesting situation.
    If you want to talk to your fellow writers about these things without spoiling it to the group in general, the LNH Authors' List is a good place for it. Just ask for your email to be added.
  3. Have fun with it! If you're here, it should be because you want to write with us. If something's causing a problem, say so. The LNH is for good times, and if it's better for you, it'll be better for us too!

Okay, but what if I really want to make friends?[edit]

Two words: Write reviews. Or at least respond to stories with comments. Nothing makes a writer happier than feedback!

Making Sure You Get Posted: Why do y'all put "LNH:" in front of your titles?[edit]

Why not? You think we'd be ashamed of proclaiming our title is part of the LNH family? Huh? Do you? Do you?

Ahem. Anyway, the convention on rec.arts.comics.creative is to identify stories by which imprint they belong to. That way, you can pick and choose from your favorites, or seek out new worlds that you haven't experienced yet.

In addition, RACC is moderated by fantastic human being Russ Allbery. Moderating manually takes time, but if your story is properly tagged, it'll zip through automatically and appear on the group immediately.

Thus, Eightfold stories have an 8FOLD: in front of them, Superhuman World stories have an SW10: in front of them, ASH stories have an ASH: in front of them, and LNH stories have a tag based on which imprint they're in. Classic LNH uses the LNH: tag, and the LNH20:, LNHY:, NTB:, LNH2:, and LUNA: tags go with their respective imprints.

As well, there are several tags for specific types of posts that are used by everyone on RACC. These include:

Stories that involve more than one imprint use both tags. For example, a crossover between LNH20 and LNHY would be tagged as "LNH20/LNHY:", and if someone did a Classic LNH/ASH crossover over Dave Van Domelen's dead body, it would be tagged "LNH/ASH:".

Tags can also be put in brackets, like [LNH], but Google Groups has trouble with those, so use of them has dropped off. The RACC FAQ lists every imprint that's used on RACC along with its tag, including MISC:, which is used for stories that don't belong in any established imprint.

Hey, somebody else's story messed up the continuity in my story![edit]

This is the opposite side of the "be careful with huge changes" advice. If someone wasn't careful with what they did and it contradicted what you've already done, you have a lot of options. You can play off the error, making it into its own plot point; you can introduce a retcon that explains what really happened; and this is the LNH, after all – you can just make a joke and keep going!

Again, point it out in the group – the writer who made the mistake will probably want to help fix it.

Acraphobe: What do I do if my story might... y'know, be too much for some people?[edit]

RACC has its own mature audiences label, Acraphobe, for stories involving strong language, sexual and/or violent situations, disturbing themes, and adult content. Tag your stories "ACRA:" to put them in this category.

NTB stories are automatically Acraphobe, even if not tagged.

Do I lose the copyright on my stories for posting them to Usenet?[edit]

Not at all. You retain copyright on anything you write, regardless of how it may be published. To quote the Copyright Myths FAQ, found at http://www.clari.net/brad/copymyths.html:

Nothing is in the public domain anymore unless the owner explicitly puts it in the public domain... Explicitly, as in you have a note from the author/owner saying, "I grant this to the public domain." Those exact words or words very much like them.
Some argue that posting to Usenet implicitly grants permission to everybody to copy the posting within fairly wide bounds, and others feel that Usenet is an automatic store and forward network where all the thousands of copies made are done at the command (rather than the consent) of the poster. This is a matter of some debate, but even if the former is true... it simply would suggest posters are implicitly granting permissions "for the sort of copying one might expect when one posts to Usenet" and in no case is this a placement of material into the public domain.
Furthermore it is very difficult for an implicit licence to supersede an explicitly stated licence that the copier was aware of.

And for you weisenheimers playing along at home, no, we didn't violate the copyright of the Copyright Myths FAQ. =P File it under "fair use."

Common Terms and In-Jokes[edit]

Looniverse Terms and Abbreviations (or, everything you need to know in order to understand your garden-variety LNHer)[edit]

  • Dvandom: Dave Van Domelen, a prolific mostly-former LNH writer. Many of his creations have "Dvandom" in their names, such as the Dvandom Stranger, Dvandom Force, etc.
  • Gamer Boy: A character who was planned but never actually written into a story; he exists perpetually offscreen. A running gag is to ask "What would Gamer Boy think?"
  • Mister Paprika: The LNH's favorite soft drink. Its slogan is "That's a MAN's pop!"
  • RACCies: The annual rec.arts.comics.creative awards, given to the best stories, writers, and posts of the year.
  • Retcon: In the Real World, a storytelling tool in which previously-unrevealed past events are revealed. In the Looniverse, the ability to make retroactive changes to reality itself.
  • Retcoetheric energy: The energy of retcons. Also known as magic!
  • LNHQ: Legion of Net.Heroes Headquarters. Also called LNHHQ.
  • Net.hero: LNH's equivalent of "superhero".
  • Net.villain: LNH's equivalent of "supervillain".
  • Subgroup: A part of the LNH that acts as its own mini-team. Often, stars in its own series and/or belongs to a single writer.
  • TEB: Trade EtherBack. An LNH story in collected format.
  • Tsk Force: A group of LNHers brought together temporarily to accomplish a specific goal.
  • wReam: A very prolific former LNH writer. Many of his creations have "wReam" in the name, such as wReamhack, wReamicus Maximus, etc.

Internet Terms and Abbreviations (or, sig.nificant meanings)[edit]

LNH stories play a lot with Internet terminology, including some stuff that's kind of technical or obsolete. Here's a list of some that new readers may be unfamiliar with:

  • Crosspost: In the Real World, a message that is posted to more than one newsgroup. In the Looniverse, a method of traveling between separate newsgroup-worlds.
  • Flame: A heated insult.
  • IRC: Internet Relay Chat. A form of text-based chatroom run on independent IRC servers.
  • Killfile: A newsreader's ignore function. To "killfile" someone is to block their posts.
  • Lurking: In the Real World, to read a newsgroup without posting to it. In the Looniverse, the ability to fade into the background, often including invisibility and intangibility.
  • Netiquette: Internet etiquette. How not to be a jerk online.
  • .sig: Signature file. A file containing a Usenet poster's "signature", which gets added to the end of each post they make.

What's with all the Lads and Lasses?[edit]

Many of the LNH's names were inspired by DC's Legion of Super-Heroes, and specifically, the Silver Age incarnation of that franchise. The Silver Age LSH had a lot of names that were <adjective> <noun>, where the noun was something like Boy, Girl, Lad, Lass, or Kid – a word for a young person, as the LSH was the equivalent of a futuristic afterschool club.

The LNH, naturally, took this to an absurd level. Even adult members may be referred to as Lass or Lad. LNHers use other nouns, including Man and Woman, but also including Dude, Chick, Guy, Miss, Lady, Granny, and Person. The LSH had a Matter-Eater Lad, so the LNH has characters with ridiculously long, often hypenated names, including Cheesecake-Eater Lad, Sister State-the-Obvious, Pulls-Paper-Out-of-Hats Lad, You're-Not-Hitting-Me-Hard-Enough Lad, All-Knowing Last-Chance Whiner Destiny Woman, and Kid Not Appearing In Any Retcon Hour Story (which throws in a reference to Monty Python for good measure).

Of course, not all LNHers are named like this. In the LNH, you'll find everything that's found in comic books and more, from pithy one-word names like Pantra to Internet references like Captain Coredump to pithy one-word Internet references like Kindle and Twitter. You'll find people who just go by their own name, like January Frost and Pister Y Maprika III; you'll find gratuitous punctuation, like Exclamation!Master! and the Crimson @venger; you'll find straightforward stuff like Fearless Leader and obscure formations like Shining Tungsten Magister. It's fun!

Net.Names: Why is it called "Ame.rec.a"?[edit]

The first LNH story parodied Superman's home city of Metropolis by setting the action in the city of Net.ropolis. This inspired writers to base all kinds of place names off of Internet terminology; Net.York City, Ca.net.da, Scot.LAN.d, Af.rec.a, the Loonited States of Ame.rec.a, etc. In particular, rec. and alt. are often used, because they appear in newsgroup names.

In LNH20, there's an in-character explanation. The Village was a lost city discovered and linked to the world by '60s hero team the Network, and in gratitude, renamed themselves Net.ropolis; it became a fad, and cities around the world followed suit. After net.heroes became less popular, many of them changed their names back, and Net.ropolis became Netropolis. Whether this makes the idea more or less silly is up to the reader.

NTB stories, despite taking place in the Classic Looniverse, generally don't use net.names. Because they're hardcore like that, man.

What's this "alt.comics.lnh"?[edit]

The LNH didn't originally have its own newsgroup – the early stories were posted to rec.arts.comics, then rec.arts.comics.misc (RACM). This annoyed some people on those groups, though. Plans began to give the LNH its own newsgroup, but some unknown person took it upon themselves to create alt.comics.lnh without going through the formal newsgroup creation process, thus ensuring that the group wouldn't be available in all places, and that LNH stories would continue to be posted to RACM.

Still, alt.comics.lnh was the LNH's home until a couple years later, when rec.arts.comics.creative was formally created. While there were some diehards who prefered a.c.lnh, and most LNH stories were posted to both groups, over time more and more of the traffic went to RACC.

Nowadays, the only posts on alt.comics.lnh are crossposts from RACC and automated posts by the Looniversal Answering Machine, whose sole function is to direct people to RACC. (The spammers seem to have mostly given up on it.) In-story, it's referred to a desolate, empty landscape, containing only ruins of its former glory.

What twisted mind came up with this "LNH" thing, anyway? (An Entirely-Too-Long Short History of the LNH)[edit]

It was a dark and stormy night... no, wait, sorry, wrong intro.

The LNH got started as, basically, a running joke. On April 27, 1992, in the now-defunct rec.arts.comics newsgroup, at the end of a post correcting the spelling of Winsor McCay's name, Bill Sherman identified himself as Spelling Boy of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Dan'l Danehy-Oakes proposed that everyone give themselves Legion of Super-Heroes-style names, declaring himself California Kid of the Legion of Net.Heroes. This opened the floodgates, with dozens of posters creating heroic-yet-ridiculous identities.

Eventually, some people got annoyed with this. Rather than write a humorless complaint, Steven Librande jumped in as "Doctor Killfile", threatening to "release the awesome force of my patented Kill-O-Ray, destroying all posts about you blithering Net.Heroes!!" Ben Pierce, in-character as Marvel Zombie Lad, posted a call to arms, and this resulted in a flood of story posts about the net.heroes fighting Dr. Killfile and half a dozen other net.villains, which eventually became what is now known as the Cosmic Plot Device Caper.

The CPDC was notable for, um... never really coming to an end. It was instead interrupted by summer vacation – at the time, the vast majority of people on the Internet got their access through colleges or universities. That might well have been the end of the LNH, except for one person.

The following fall, Todd "Scavenger" Kogutt was responsible for stirring up interest in a revived LNH. Threads from the original story were picked up, new writers came in to contribute, old writers returned. The LNH blossomed from one story into an entire universe.

By this time, rec.arts.comics had been split into multiple groups, and LNH stories were being posted on rec.arts.comics.misc (or RACM). And again, some people got annoyed. alt.comics.lnh was created, but quickly and improperly, setting the stage for something bigger...

The LNH spread out. At first, everyone's characters overlapped with everyone else's. Gradually, writers started their own series, creating characters beyond the one that served as their avatar. Sometimes there was friction – for instance, the infamously ridiculous "Woody Incident" – but the LNH kept picking up steam.

Some LNH writers decided to create new shared universes, still comics-inspired, but different from the LNH. There were those on RACM who liked this even less, but this time, people were more patient. In 1994, a new home for all these worlds was formally created – rec.arts.comics.creative. And around this occasion, the biggest LNH event ever – Retcon Hour, a sprawling mass of a crossover involving over a dozen writers. While many complained about how messy and complicated it was, others were inspired.

RACC and the LNH kept growing, especially after RACC was converted to a moderated group in 1996. New writers jumped in, new universes were created, new series were launched. Older writers sharpened their skills, some becoming more dramatic, some launching into epic storylines, some figuring out how the Looniverse they'd created worked. '96 and '97 were the LNH's busiest years.

But some people wanted to move on. Others got tired of the number of newbies, as their posts outweighed those of experienced writers. And as the Internet changed, Usenet was getting less popular. By the end of 1999, several well-known and well-regarded series ended. Some of their writers moved on to other universes, while others left RACC entirely.

Between 2000 and 2003, the LNH contracted. There was still a trickle of new writers, but not enough to counteract the ones who were slowly disappearing. There were still events going on, like Birth of a Villain and the formation of the alternate-future LNH2 universe, but less and less stories were being posted.

But in 2004, this turned around. Saxon Brenton started a monthly review series of RACC titles. Arthur Spitzer launched LNHY, a new LNH universe created to solve some of the Classic LNH's persistent problems. Jamie Rosen created a new LNH Volume 2 series that anyone could contribute to. People started to get inspired again.

2006 was the beginning of a minor renaissance. 450 stories were posted that year, and while many of these were Haiku Gorilla-style short-short stories, it was still a significant amount of storytelling. The posting level would drop again after this, but never to the level of 2003.

April of 2007 saw one of the most ambitious projects in the LNH's history, the Infinite Leadership Crisis. Eight writers collectively produced one story for each day of that month. This spun off big events and new series, but also lead to a mild drop in posting as people burned out from the effort.

Over the next few years, the LNH built itself up, posting level slowly increasing, old writers returning once more. Another great burst of energy began at the end of 2011. 2012 would be the LNH's 20th anniversary, and a new universe was built from the ground up – LNH20, inspired and informed by all 20 years of the classic LNH. This lead to new series, new characters, and new ideas.

And that's where we are now. The LNH has a big, open toybox of ideas to play with, ready and waiting for new writers. Come and be a part of it!

Who's the most powerful LNHer?[edit]

holds up mirror

Get it?

Contributors[edit]

As with any work which is the result of collective efforts, the list below does not even begin to include everyone who has contributed to the FAQ. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to help this document grow and change over the years: