Having read a distressing news article about Chris Chambers, an old friend of his, writer Gordie Lachance gets nostalgic and starts to write a story about that time when they were kids, and snuck away from home with two other boys to go out on a grand adventure. It was a trip which tested their limits, forcing them to jump a train, hide from bullies, casually walk over a bridge, hide a dead body and find a possibly cursed crutch...
Starring Jon Miller as Gordie Lachance, Paulo Quiros as Chris Chambers, Pitr Strait as Teddy Duchamp, Scott Aiello as Vern Tessio, and Andy Hoover as the Dungeon Master.
Followed by Jumanji.
- Adaptational Villainy: There was nothing evil about the train in the original story. It was simply a vehicle, dangerous to anyone stupid or suicidal enough to stay on the railroad. Here, the players suspect that it is a conductor-less, supernatural murder train which killed a boy deliberately and tries to get rid of our protagonists as well to cover its tracks. (Well, the book was written by the same author as Trucks and Christine, so it's not completely implausible.)
- Anti-Climax: The iconic bridge-crossing scene is not nearly as dramatic as in the film. It's to the point that the grown up Gordie barely remembers it, or even if it happened during this adventure or not.
- Artifact of Death: The boys treat Vern's "Cursed Crutch" as one, and theorise that it has killed all of its previous owners by cutting off their legs, trapping their souls inside of itself. It's never made clear if they are right or not.
- Ascended Extra: A quite morbid example. The dead boy found by the kids in the forest has now gotten a larger role, as they spend a fair amount of the climax carrying his corpse around.
- Back from the Dead: Averted Trope. Vern tries to bring the dead body back to life with his "cursed crutch," but it doesn't work.
- Bowdlerise: The players agree to tone down their characters' foul (and honestly rather offensive) language somewhat.
- Jon asks if he can come back as a shark if he dies.
- The first episode ends with the players singing the Halloween theme, and when the kids talk with a fairly naive policeman on the telephone, they ask him if his name is Jeff. (He says that no, he's actually called Joff.) Also, at one point the other party members ask Scott Aiello's character if he's British.
- Joz's absence leads to a discussion of the fact that she usually plays a major role in pushing the story along "unless she abandons all her friends for a dragon". Also, Andy's habit of referring to Ace's gang as "wicked teenagers" prompts Paulo to remark "Wicked is not canon for this campaign".
- Chromosome Casting: The campaign has (including the Dungeon Master) as many as five players, all of them male. They admit that this movie is not the most diverse one they have ever played through.
- Completely Missing the Point: Vern does this when Gordie tells a story about Billy Perkins, a quarterback who hasn't gone outside in years.Vern: Why can't he leave his room?
Gordie: Because he knows—
Vern: Is the door locked?
Gordie: It's not the door. It's him, Vern!
Vern: Wait, he's the door?
- Darker and Edgier / Lighter and Softer: Hard to say, really. On one hand, it's more of a semi-philosophical character study than the boys' adventure the original film was. Though on the other hand, the kids don't face nearly as much danger here, and the overall tone is more comedic.
- Demoted to Extra: Ace. He's still a big threat, but the boys are better at staying away from him than they were in the film, so he only really appears once.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Literary. The kids guess that Pluto might be a Soviet spy, because who would suspect him?
- Disposing of a Body: Our protagonists decide to hide the body of the kid they found, so that the Cobras won't find it. This actually allows them to avoid their final confrontation with Ace from the original film.
- Dying Dream: This was apparently what the Framing Device of the story would be revealed to be if Gordie had ended up dying. This did not actually happen, however.
- Gag Penis: Teddy has one, apparently. He willingly shows it to Vern, who is quite impressed.
- Girls Have Cooties: Vern seems to believe this.
- Imaginary Friend: The vague description of how the other characters only exists within Gordie's thoughts (that is, his memories) leads to the theory that the other boys never existed and that he just walked around talking to himself the whole time.
- In Spite of a Nail: Because of a bad roll from Andy during the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Chris (who had become a "completely average lawyer") still gets stabbed to death in a fast-food restaurant trying to stop a fight (that he probably started).
- I Should Write a Book About This: Having survived being run over by a train, Gordie decides that he will write about the event at some point in the future (though he plans to leave out the fact that he cried afterwards). We then suddenly cut to a grown-up Gordie being interviewed by "Andy" on a radio show.Andy: We're here with noted writer Gordie Lachance about his new novel, The Train Above Me, and I understand that this is from a... this is from a traumatic experience you had in your youth sometime, out there in rural Oregon?
Gordie: Yeah, that... that's right, Andy. Thank you so so much. It's an honor to be on the show, and this was drawn from a semi-autobiographical place, and... obviously in the book I turn it more into a metaphor for the way life can pass you by unless you're ready to grab on to it as it's speeding on above you, and... this brought me back when I was starting...
Andy: We actually talked to a... a young man that knew you at the time — his name is Ted Duchamp — who said that you cried like a little bitch when this train actually passed over you.
Gordie: Well no, no...
Andy: He called you — I believe his words were -- "King of the Pussies." I... I apologize to our listeners for the frank language. I think he meant that in a good way, though. Cause you're good at eating out, right?
Vern: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!
- Jerkass: Teddy Duchamp acts like one towards Vern, even threatening to kill him several times.
- Kiss of Life / Dude, He's Like, In A Coma: After Vern falls unconsious, Teddy starts giving him artificial respiration. When Vern wakes up, however, he thinks that Teddy was non-consensually making out with him, leading to a fight between the two.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There are several moments like this spread throughout the campaign, arguably making it feel more like a Stephen King story than the original film.
- Metaphorgotten: Gordie's haiku.Gordie: Dead body waiting.
We found him when he was lost.
Have we been found yet?
- Never Found the Body: Zig Zagged Trope. The boys find the corpse, hide it from the Cobras, and tell the police where it is. However, they never find out what happened with it later, so it's possible that nobody ever found it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Vern screams "RUUUN!!" when Milo — the owner of the junkyard they are hiding in — shows up, which pretty much ensures that he notices them.
- Potty Emergency: Our protagonists believe that Santa Claus suffers from this on Christman Eve. They theorise that he slows down time in order to deliver all of his presents, all while sustaining himself on cookies and milk. And as everybody knows — apparently — you can't poop while time travelling.
- Recognition Failure: Milo's confrontation with the intruders at his junkyard is not quite as intimidating as he probably hoped. Unlike his movie counterpart, he does not — with the exception of Chris Chambers — remember anybody's name.Milo: Hey, wait a minute! I know you! [rolls dice] ... nope.
Vern Tessio: Yeah, you don't know shit, old man!
Milo: I know you too! You're... [rolls dice] Finntessio or something! You're Finntessio's kid.
- Show Within a Show: They Walk by Night, a western series. It even has a theme song (which the players improvise on the spot) and a subpar Reboot in The '70s involving Vampires.
- After pointing out that the train only goes in one direction, the players say that it "doesn't know it's beautiful."
- Andy describes Ace, the teen delinquent played by Kiefer Sutherland in the movie, as looking older than he is, perhaps as old as 24.
- The kids plan to board a speeding train "just like The Lone Ranger."
- Vern screams — despite having his mouth full of vomit — when Gordie lets the train run over him. The other players thinks that he sounds like Jar Jar Binks.
- Having crit-failed in his attempt at finding a good resting spot, the boys start to wonder what terrible place they have ended up in. Among the suggestions are a Sarlacc Pit (since they only exist in Maine) and Mount Doom. (The former is a bit anachronistic, since Return of the Jedi was only released in 1983.)
- Once our protagonists have set up camp, Gordie is asked to tell a story about Superman and Spider-Man. Once the players realise that Spider-Man didn't exist at this point, he is instead told to invent him. Gordie then claims that "The Spider-Man of Backwater Lane" — who seems to be Spider Man In Name Only — is a real person, a short, thin old man with Creepy Long Fingers. All children are afraid of him, but he is really a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold who gives children hot chocolate and takes them fishing. (He also seems to be a bit of a Memetic Molester In-Universe, but it's unclear whether this reputation is Justified or not. It's also possible that he doesn't exist at all, in which case the question would be moot.)
- When the other asks who would win in a fight between Superman and Gordie's Spider-Man — if say, Superman killed the latter's son and he wants revenge. When Gordie says that Superman never kills, the others bring up the Phantom Zone Villains from Superman II, and make a reference to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. (Then they realise that — once again — those movies have yet to be made.)
- After that, the question of whether or not elves fuck is brought up. The first follow-up question to that is whether they are talking about the elves of Santa Claus or of J. R. R. Tolkien. note (In both cases, the answer seems to be "yes.")
- Their next matter of discussion is the age-old question of why Goofy can talk, but not Pluto. The answer our protagonists come up with is that it's Pluto's collar which turns him into Mickey's loyal pet. If somebody removed it, Pluto would rise up on his hind legs and thank them for having released him — in a British accent, for some reason. Alternately, Pluto is a communist spy.
- When Ace decides to solves a mystery, the players theorize that he might be Fred from Scooby-Doo. (Presumably after having taken a MAJOR level in jerkass.)
- Dungeon Master Andy compares a campfire with the one made by the Trolls in The Hobbit.
- When the kids find the dead boy, the players theorise that he was really 83 years old, and had a similar condition to Benjamin Button.
- The other players are disappointed that Jon has seen the Star Wars movies, as it would otherwise be fun to see him react to their plot twists if they ever turned them into a campaign.
- They say that Vern will be ready once The Happening comes to pass, as he's already suspecting the trees.
- Soft Water: Averted Trope. As in the movie, the boys realize how dangerous it would be to fall down into the river from the bridge, and do all they can to avoid this fate.
- That Came Out Wrong: While Gordie is recounting the rumors about the junk yard dog, he mentions a supposed incident in which the dog tore a kid open and ate his innards. The phrase Jon uses to describe this is "ate him out", which the other players immediate leap on, and the phrase comes back to haunt him several times later in the episode.
- Totem Pole Trench: The boys think about doing this while calling the police, but eventually decides not to, perhaps realising that the cops wouldn't see them, anyway.
- Waxing Lyrical: At one point, when the kids are encouraging Gordie to tell another story, one of them misquotes the entire chorus of Billy Joel's "Piano Man", beginning with "Weave us a tale, you're the story man".
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The campaign ends with one.
- Vern's leg injury never healed, which stopped him from participating in sports. He became known for being quite grumpy, but also developed a great interest in literature, and spent much of his free time at the library.
- Ted matured with age, and — unlike his movie counterpart — never became a criminal. He got a job at Milo's junkyard, and eventually took it over when Milo retired. The incident back in 1959 just became something for them both to laugh about. Ted was seen as a Reasonable Authority Figure who would often give good advice.
- Chris became a "completely average lawyer" focused on defending those punished for crimes they didn't commit. Unfortunately, he was still stabbed to death while trying to stop a fight. (In this adaptation, he may have also instigated it. But the newspapers did not mention this.)
- Gordie became a writer and poet. His horror novels never became especially popular, though his poems gave him a small but devoted fanbase. He also tried suing Marvel Comics for creating a character with the same name as one of his own, which temporarily left him broke. Later, he wrote a book based on his own childhood, which he also adapted into a Tabletop RPG Podcast.