Monday, November 4, 2013

For the Organized DM: Using Info Cards to Increase Roleplaying and Decrease Metagaming

     Hey fellow dungeon masters! I know it's been a while since I promised more tips on organizing your campaign, but here at last is another one!

My D&D binder and my beloved dice. <3

     Imagine this: you're in the middle of a gaming session, and the party comes across some information that only one character would know/understand. For example, Draconic runes on the dungeon wall, a symbol that requires a Knowledge (Religion) check to know what it means, or a vital detail that only a high Gather Information roll could uncover. Whatever it is, only one of your characters has the appropriate knowledge, skill, or language, so that character would in essence have an important bit of information that the rest of the party wouldn't have. The problem is, as a DM, how do you convey that information to that character's player without the other players also finding out?

     Most DM's I've gamed with had the same solution: they would just outright tell the player in front of the others, trusting the rest of us not to metagame and act like our characters knew the information too. But this usually resulted in the exact opposite response. Often we all role-played it out as if the well-informed character had already filled the rest of us in. We didn't intentionally metagame, but in that situation, it's sometimes hard not to.

     Another solution I've seen used is to take the one player into a different room to tell them the information. This leaves the other players bored and in a bit of a limbo, waiting for the DM to get back. It usually works fine for the bigger, more important secrets, but it  would be too inconvenient to use all the time.

     So are you ready for my solution yet?

     Info cards!

An example of some info cards my group received while playing through the "Dark and Stormy Knight" module.

     Here's how it works: When you're preparing for your next session, take a look at the material you expect to be covering (whether it's a pre-made adventure module or one you created yourself). Figure out what information might end up being revealed to only one character. Usually this would include things found out through Knowledge checks, speaking certain languages, and sometimes Gather Information checks. (I even like to include Spot/Listen checks sometimes, when I want the specific monster or villain's big reveal to be more dramatic.)

     When you find a bit of information that fits the bill, write it down on an index card. Then flip the card over and on the back write the method of obtaining the information - skill check, language, whatever. On skill checks, make sure you note the minimum DC for obtaining the information. You can also write what room number or event number the card corresponds to, just to make it easier to find the relevant card at the right time.

Back of info cards. I used abbreviations for Bardic Knowledge and the Knowledge checks, but write it out if it makes more sense to you. The number beside those is the DC. The "S" in the square stands for "start," because this info was before the characters made it in to the actual dungeon. But normally I would write the room number in the square.

     During the session, have your characters make the required rolls as normal. If someone rolls high enough (or knows the necessary language), you just hand them the card. It's all mysterious. ;) Seriously though, the player who got the information feels important, and the other players are in suspense waiting to find out what's on the card.

     As an added bonus, the player who has the information then gets to decide whether or not to share the information, depending on what his/her character would really do. In some cases the character really wouldn't share the information, would share only part of it, or would twist it to suit his/her own purposes. Giving the player a chance to do that really makes for some good opportunities for interesting role-play. And even if the player decided to tell all the information, just letting the character tell it his/her own way, and having the other characters react in-character, presents more great opportunities for role-play.

     Got two different DCs for different amounts of information? No problem! Just write the lower DC info on one card and the higher DC on a different card. If the player beats the lower DC but misses the higher one, give the player only the lower DC card. If he/she beats both, hand over both! (Just make sure the cards are read in the correct order, if it matters.)

For example, if Aster the bard had rolled a 12 on his Bardic Knowledge check, he would've only gotten the information on the first card.

     It's as simple as that! Of course, if you're the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, make-it-up-as-you-go, spontaneous type of DM, this probably won't work for you. But if that were the case, you probably wouldn't be reading tips for being an organized DM to begin with, now would you? ;)

     If you missed my first tip, for using highlighters to organize campaign information, you can check it out here. Stay tuned for more tips soon, and leave a comment letting me know any tips of your own! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Japan Series! - Japanese Temples and Shrines

     We're finally getting around to the sight-seeing portion of my Japan trip series! One thing we saw a lot of were sites of religious significance to the Japanese people. Japan's two major religions are Shinto and Buddhism, so that means lots of shrines and temples!
Byodoin, a temple in Kyoto.

     The major difference between the two types of sites is what religion each is related to. Temples are devoted to Buddhism, a religion revering Buddha and his teachings, which is popular in many Asian countries. Shrines are instead associated with Shinto, a polytheistic religion is which followers worship many gods, spirits, and ancestors. Shinto is a native Japanese religion which has mostly stayed unique to Japan.

Itsukushima, a shrine on the island of Miyajima.

     For me, it was a bit difficult to tell the temples and shrines apart. However, certain clues sometimes made it easier. For example, if there were statues of Buddha, it was obviously a temple.

Buddha and other statues at Nanzenji, a temple in Kyoto.

     Although both types of sites sometimes had statues of humans or animals as guardians.

Kitsune (fox) statue at Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine in Kyoto.

Phoenix on the roof of the Phoenix Hall of Byodoin.

     Pagodas usually meant temples...

Pagoda at Koofukuji, a temple in Nara.

     ...while torii gates often indicated shrines.

Huge torii gate in front of Fushimi Inari Taisha.

     Both had beautiful architecture and gorgeous gardens.

Building and garden of Ginkakuji (The Silver Pavilion), a temple in Kyoto.

     The sites were all really beautiful in their own unique ways. But for me, my visits to these sites were about more than just sight-seeing. Because I don't follow either of these religions, I did not participate in religious rituals or worship at these places. But I found it fascinating to learn more about these belief systems and religious sites through direct observation. I feel that learning more about another person's religious beliefs (or any beliefs, for that matter) makes it easier to relate to and understand them. Just making the effort to learn shows that you're not ethnocentric and bigoted, which is a major stereotype of Christians that I believe we need to overcome. And if one is secure in one's own beliefs, exposure to other belief systems should strengthen that faith, not weaken it.

Couple praying at Kasuga Taisha, a shrine in Nara.

     Over the course of the two-week trip, our group visited six shrines and eleven temples, in addition to some other sight-seeing. Yes, we were basically speed-walking a lot of the time, trying to keep up with Peek-sensei. XD I actually would've like to take it a little slower and have time to take more pictures. But I still have a ton of pictures and experiences to share, so look forward to the next several posts covering some of my favorite temples and shrines!

     P.S. A complete list of posts in my Japan series can be found in the Intro post.

     PPS. For a more detailed explanation of the differences between shrines and temples, check out this post from The Japan Guy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adventure Time Giveaway Winner!

     As promised, it's time to announce the winner of the Adventure Time Shape-Shifting Jake Puzzle Game!

     I said I would determine the winner randomly from everyone who commented on my last post. There were three commenters: Cedric, Justin, and Rikian.

     Because I'm a D&D player, my favorite way to randomly determine something is through rolling the dice. :D And since I don't own a 3-sided die, I used a d6 and assigned each commenter two numbers:

                    Cedric = 1 and 2
                    Justin = 3 and 4
                    Rikian = 5 and 6

     And the winner is... *drumroll*

     Cedric! Congratulations! I know for us gamers a 1 is usually bad, but this time it's a good thing for you!

     Thanks to all three of my commenters! Check back next month - maybe I'll have another Nerd Block-related giveaway! :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Nerd Block October 2013 Review

     So... I know I'm due for a Japan series post, but I just got something exciting in the mail and I wanted to write about it!

     This is called a Nerd Block. You subscribe ($19.99 a month plus shipping and handling), and every month they send you a box full of geeky goodies. It's like the Cheese-of-the-Month Club, only cooler. ^_^ (BTW, just so you know, Nerd Block didn't pay me to write this review, or send me free stuff or anything... Although that would be cool.)

     The Nerd Block service just started up last month, and we missed the September box. But the October box just came in tonight and we were super excited to open it!

     The box always comes with a t-shirt plus around 4 to 6 other items like figures, stickers, etc. Here's what we got this month:

DC Universe Mystery Minis Vinyl Figure...

...Which turned out to be one of the six Joker designs.

Another blind box figure, a turret from Portal.

There were lots of different colors, but we ended up with the plain white one.

Bonus: Hilarious warnings on the box!

The Spawn figure wasn't blind boxed...

...We got Skullsplitter! (I actually don't know anything about Spawn, but this guy looks
pretty cool.)

This wasn't labeled, but we're guessing it's a TMNT coaster...?

A cute and tiny Iron Man eraser. ^_^

The t-shirt design. It's like... Darth Vader as Death, skeletal Storm Trooper, and the Death Star.

     There was only one thing I didn't like all that much. I'm not a fan of Adventure Time, so I thought, what better time to do my first ever blog giveaway? :)

Adventure Time Shape-Shifting Jake Puzzle Game.
     For all you Adventure Time fans out there (in the continental US, that is), you can win this little puzzle game. All you have to do is comment on this blog post. Next Wednesday (October 23rd, 2013), I'll choose a winner randomly and announce it in another post. After that, the winner will have a week to email me with his/her mailing address. If not, I'll choose another winner, so keep an eye out for the announcement!

     Okay, one more shot of our loot pile...

Yes, I like to make a loot pile whenever I get new things. I think I might be part dragon.

     Oh, and BTW, when you subscribe to Nerd Block you get to choose your t-shirt size and style. Billy and I used our "fun money" and split the cost, so we chose the regular style (rather than fitted men's or fitted women's) and a size we could both wear.

This is my "Nerd Block, YEAH!" face.

     Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" Debuts on ABC

     Thursday, October 10th, ABC premiered their new Once Upon a Time spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (#OUATWonderland or #OnceWonderland for short on Twitter). Alice has been a popular trend lately, so I wasn't a bit surprised to learn that ABC was cashing in on it. Not to mention, we've seen Wonderland before on the original OUAT, and it was pretty awesome. So I was super-excited a week or two ago when I realized how close the premiere was.

     Spoiler Alert! If you didn't catch the premiere, don't worry; you can go watch it on ABC's website before reading this. Or not. Your call.


      First off, there's Alice (of course). In the original novel by Lewis Carroll, Alice is a child, but in OUATIW, she's only a child for the first visit to Wonderland (presumably). The opening scene shows her climbing out of the rabbit hole and running to tell her father all about the magical realm she visited. But when we next see her, Alice is grown-up (well, a teenager anyway) and locked away in an asylum for continuing to believe in Wonderland. In flashbacks, we get the CliffNotes version of a romance between Alice and a genie named Cyrus, whom she met and traveled with in Wonderland. (The asylum doctor's statement that Alice claimed they had been "fighting pirates [and] swimming with mermaids" also hinted that she and Cyrus may have traveled to Neverland at some point.

     Played by Sophie Lowe, Alice herself is adorable but spunky, stubborn (but in a good way), with much more fire than the traditional Alice character. The show's creators have stated that they didn't want to do the "damsel in distress" thing with her, and they avoided it fairly well, although some fight scenes ended in one male character or another helping her out of a tight spot. But Alice does fend for herself fairly well, with some pretty sweet martial arts moves and swordplay. It just makes me wonder, where did she learn how to fight?

     I've been wondering other things about Alice too, such as: When was she first admitted to asylum? How did she get back to Wonderland when she decided to get proof? What's her history with the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat (since both "friendships" seem shaky at best)? I'm hoping these and more will be answered over the course of the series through backstory flashbacks.


     Cyrus is a genie - and given his connection to Jafar, I'd venture to guess he's The Genie. But - as with many characters in the OUAT universe, he's very different from his Disney-animation counterpart. Instead of blue and funny, he's handsome and charming (although he did seem to come on a little strong upon his first meeting with Alice).

     But more importantly (to me anyway) is the question of how a genie came to be in Wonderland to begin with. He and Jafar are both natives of the land of Agrabah (the same land where OUAT's previous genie/magic mirror, a.k.a. Sidney Glass, hailed from). And if they made it to Wonderland, where are Jasmine and Aladdin?

     Cyrus has the power to grant wishes, and he gives Alice three of them - in their physical form, looking like rubies (which I thought was actually a really neat touch). What other powers could he have? When he proposes to Alice, he says, "I think the people in your world do this on one knee." How does he know what the people in her world do? I doubt that topic just happened to come up in conversation with Alice, which leads me to believe that either he's traveled to other worlds or he has some magical knowledge of other worlds. That actually would be in keeping with the animated Disney Genie, since he was a bit of a "meta-gamer," so to speak.


     The Knave of Hearts is also handsome and charming, as well as clever and funny. You can bet there are going to be a lot of Knave/Alice (Knalice?) shippers, despite the billing of the show as an epic love story between Alice and Cyrus.

     The first scene shows the Knave in Storybrooke, before meeting up with the White Rabbit and traveling to Victorian England to break Alice out of the asylum. For me this brings up a lot of questions about his backstory, which I'm itching to see revealed. For example, if he's originally from Wonderland, how did he end up in Storybrooke? He would've had to be in the Enchanted Forest when the curse hit, wouldn't he? (Also, how do all these different worlds' timelines line up? 'Cause that's really been confusing me.) He also keeps going on about the new life he's been building in Storybrooke, so I'd like to find out what's in Storybrooke that he's so keen on.

     Bonus: Was that Emma's yellow Beetle that almost ran over him in the street? Making me wonder, was that scene supposed to have happened before Emma and the gang left for Neverland? 

     Given the name "Knave of Hearts," I can almost guarantee he has some connection to the Queen of Hearts - a.k.a. Cora from OUAT. But what connection? Alice tells him, "Once long ago I helped you get back your heart." That has Cora written all over it, what with her MO of ripping out people's hearts to control them, and I can't wait to hear that story.

     Oh, and the Knave may be charming and witty and all that, but he's also a little devious. In one scene, Alice carelessly leaves her shoes (with wishes hidden in the heel) with him while she climbs a tree to have a look aroud. The wishes prove too much temptation for him, and he attempts to steal them, casting doubt as to whether he will be a friend or foe to Alice in the future. "But can we focus on the part where I came back and saved your life?" Oh, okay, Knave... but only because you asked with that adorable accent.

White Rabbit

     The time has come for me to address the bad CGI on this show. Yes, it's bad. But personally I didn't think it was bad enough to be distracting, most of the time. Then again, I have a very low threshold for suspension of disbelief. And for me, the CGI faults in the White Rabbit were more than made up for by his voice - John Lithgow!

     But the really interesting part about the Rabbit is how he "digs a hole." Instead of an ordinary looking rabbit hole, the White Rabbit seems to have the ability to create a vortex that allows not only travel between worlds (like the magic beans of OUAT) but also time/space travel within a particular world. For example, he meets the Knave in present-day Storybrooke, Maine, and takes him to pick up Alice in Victorian England, and then together they travel to Wonderland.

     The White Rabbit also has a dark side: He's secretly working for the Red Queen, one of the villains. But he does seem legitimately concerned about Cyrus during his conversation with her. Where do his loyalties really lie? How is the Red Queen coercing him into betraying Alice and the Knave?

Red Queen

      Not to be confused with the Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts is associated with playing cards, while the Red Queen is associated with chess. I loved the idea of her castle being shaped like chess pieces, as well as the chess analogy she uses with the White Rabbit: "I said we'd settle up when the game was complete; we are still setting up the board." She also has some really great outfits!

     However, she hasn't been well-developed as a character just yet. We don't know her background or motivation. We know she has magic, but we don't know how much. When/how did she come to power? What does she have against Alice? Why is she working with Jafar? So many questions that only have one solution: backstory!


     Like I've mentioned already, it's a little odd to see the inhabitants of Agrabah in Wonderland. But Jafar is powerful enough to make himself right at home. We don't yet know just how powerful, but it's been made clear that he's more powerful than the Red Queen, considering how scared and helpless she seemed when he threatened her.

      Also, why does Jafar have the magic carpet? In the animated movie, the Carpet was sentient, and a friend of Aladdin's. Is this a different carpet, or the same one? Is it sentient? Am I weird for wondering about the personality of a (traditionally) inanimate object? XD

My Three Wishes

     Alice is wisely careful about using the wishes Cyrus granted her. I know from experience (well... D&D experience) that carelessly worded wishes can be turned against the wisher. However, since my wishes aren't being granted by a genie (or a vindictive DM), I think I can safely lay out my top three wishes for the future of this show:

1) I wish for lots and lots of character backstory! (As if anyone couldn't have guessed that'd be the first one!)
2) I wish for the Mad Hatter (played by the same actor, of course) to enter the story and become a regular character.
3) I wish for Jasmine and Aladdin to become part of the story somehow as well.

     How about you? If you could have three wishes about this show, what would they be?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Japan Series! - Gundam Café!

            Today’s post features a specific place we visited that I thought would be of particular interest to my readers – the Gundam Café! Even though I’ve already talked a lot about food and restaurants, I thought this one deserved special attention. ^_^

            Near the end of our trip, we visited Akihabara. This district has been known for electronics for quite a while, but more recently has also become the best place to buy anime and related products in Tokyo. I’ll go into more detail about the other things we did in Akihabara (including Club Sega!) in later posts. But for today, I’m going to focus on Gundam Café.

            We saw it as soon as we stepped out of the train station, on the right-hand side of the open square.
Gundam Café - It was instantly eye-catching, as you can tell.
            Peek-sensei wanted us to see a few other things in Akihabara before dinner, but when we were done she asked if we wanted to try the Gundam Café, since some of us had shown such excitement over it. The group ended up splitting, because some of them wanted to go elsewhere, but Billy and I, Peek-sensei, and a few other students decided to stand in line at the Café.
This person-sized model Gundam stands in front of the Café. His sign says
“Sawaranaide kudasai” which means “Please do not touch.”

            The line was outside the restaurant, as you can see in the first picture. A hostess came along and asked if we wanted the smoking or non-smoking section. We told her non-smoking, and she said there would be a wait. If I remember correctly, she said it would be about 30 minutes. We stood there a few more minutes, but eventually some of the students were so hungry that they decided they didn’t want to wait any longer, and decided to go somewhere else. Peek-sensei went with them, so Billy and I were left as the only part of our group there.

Sign outside the Café. Yeah, I had a lot of time to take pictures while we were
standing in line. XD

            After a few more minutes, we thought to ask the hostess how long the wait was for the smoking section. It turned out it would only be a couple of minutes, so we discussed it and since we were both so keen on seeing the Café (and were also pretty hungry by then), we decided to tell her we wanted the smoking section. A few minutes later a hostess came and led us to a table and to our surprise, no one was even smoking in the smoking section! I don’t know if that’s normal or if we just got lucky that day, but if you ever go there, it’s worth a shot. Just make sure you can handle a little smoke if you aren’t so lucky.

Billy holding the Gundam Café menu.

            As you can see from the above picture, the atmosphere inside was really neat. There were a few other interesting aspects of the décor…

This was printed on several sections of the wall, inside and outside of the restaurant.

I found the “Return Slot” (trash can) really amusing.

            Predictably, Billy ordered chicken and potato chips. XD He’s not very adventurous when it comes to food. I have to coax him a lot to get him to try new foods, and since he had been doing a lot of that so far on the trip, I figured I’d let this one slide. ;)
Billy’s chicken and chips. Note the shaped garnish.

            Most of the time when we were in Japan, I took every opportunity to try food I couldn’t have in the States. But when I saw this, I knew I had to have it…

Gundam shield-shaped pizza!!

            Yes, pizza is a very mundane thing to eat in Japan. And I actually ate pizza more than once while we were in the country. But this one actually tasted more like what I’m used to having in the States. And the shape was just too cool to resist!

            Good food in a fun environment perfect for anime geeks. If you’re in the Akihabara area of Tokyo, I would definitely recommend checking out this restaurant!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Once Upon a Time" Goes to Neverland!

     The season three premiere of Once Upon a Time aired last Sunday on ABC, and I can't say I was disappointed. We got to see a lot more of Neverland, some cool magic, and hints of foreshadowing for both future plotlines and backstories that may be explored this season. Wanna know what I thought of the premiere? Read on...

Spoiler Alert! Read no further unless you're fully caught up on OUAT up to Season 3 Episode 1. Or if, y'know, you happen to like spoilers.

     First off... Has anyone else noticed how much darker this series has gotten? It may have been gradual, but now that the characters are in Neverland, everything seems to be darker, more grave, and more serious. In fact, Neverland itself seems to be a somewhat evil place in general, rather than the happy place it was in the animated Disney film of Peter Pan (and most other modern versions of his story). We haven't yet met any inhabitants of Neverland that aren't portrayed as evil villains.

Emma and Her Adventuring Party

     It's not just the natives of Neverland that make the show seem dark. The team of six that went to Neverland to save Henry was split down the middle - three "villains" (Rumpelstiltskin, Regina, and Hook) and three "heroes" (Emma, Snow, and David). It's a strange team-up, made stranger by the increasingly blurry lines between good and evil on this show. Take Snow White, for example. First season, she was portrayed as the ultimate good, pure-hearted, innocent heroine. By this point in the series, she has been involved in a number of questionable activities, culminating in her (indirectly) killing Cora. I feel like this is sort of a commentary on the real world - showing that moral decisions aren't always as black-and-white here as are in the fairy tales.

     I also want to comment on the dichotomy of worldviews between Snow White and her daughter Emma. Having grown up in the Enchanted Forest, Snow clings to her belief that "good always wins." Sometimes I think if she stopped believing that, she'd just fall apart. Emma, on the other hand, seems to feel like it's all up to her - that if she wants things to turn out right, she has to take an active role and make sure it happens the way she wants. And for her, that's the only thing that keeps her going sometimes. Even when she feels like she can't win, it seems to only make her more determined to do everything she can. Their views conflict, but both Snow and Emma need to cling to their own views instead of each others', in order to stay strong and save Henry. (Some may feel that Snow needs to let go of her idealistic worldview, but I feel like if that's what keeps her going, it's not necessarily a bad thing.)

     One thing about this group's journey which I thought could have been done better was the arguing scenes. I like the idea of a storm fueled by a group's conflict (and what better group to use it on?), but I felt like too much screen time was spent showing us basically the same argument. This group has plenty to fight about - why spend the majority of the time showing us the argument about the mermaid when there are much juicier subjects available? I totally buy that they would spend that much time arguing about what to do with the mermaid, but did we really have to spend that much time watching them?

     Speaking of mermaids... I want to see Ariel! We've known for a while that she's going to show up this season. In fact, we even know which episode... since it is named after her. But I'm impatient! Seeing the mermaids of Neverland in this episode just made me more eager to see one of my favorite Disney princesses from my childhood. :)

     One more (kinda random) thought about this group: When Emma was giving her pep talk about everyone being who they are and using their strengths, the group soooo reminded me of a D&D adventuring party. It made me happy. ^_^

Greg and Tamara

     I wasn't a bit surprised that the "home office" turned out to be Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, but I was a little surprised at how quickly they killed off Greg and Tamara. Though there is some room for speculation about whether Greg could still come back; after all, Pan is still living and breathing even with a detached shadow. But to be honest, I found his character a little boring and off-putting. Tamara was actually a lot more interesting to me, although I can't say I was too horribly upset when Rumpelstiltskin finished her off. She was horribly evil, after all. (Although I wouldn't have minded them exploring her motivation for that a little more thoroughly...)

     While I'm on the subject of Tamara, has anyone else noticed how few non-white characters there are on this show, and how most of them have been either minor characters or evil villains? I can only think of three major characters so far who aren't white: Mulan, Tamara, and Sidney Glass (the Genie/Magic Mirror), and now two of them have turned out evil and then died. Does this bother anyone else? I mean, being white myself, I guess I usually don't notice stuff like that (maybe not as often as I should), but now that I've noticed it, it does kinda bother me. I would like to see more diverse portrayals of people of color on this show. I know Disney has come under fire for this in their princess movies already, which they attempted to remedy with The Princess and the Frog. But I don't see Tiana showing up in OUAT, since the era her movie was set in doesn't really fit with anything we've seen on the show so far. But really, they could just change the race of a previously white character from the fairy tales. I mean, so far they've made Rumpelstiltskin play the part of the Crocodile and the Beast, changed Jack's gender, and made Peter Pan evil. How hard would it be to come up with one fairy tale hero or heroine who could be black instead of white?


     Without Belle at his side, Rumpelstiltskin is back to killing mercilessly again. It’s enough to make me wonder whether he’s truly changed at all… and what he’s really planning to do when he finds Henry. Despite possibly feeling he owes it to Bae to save his son, despite everything he said to Emma and the others, he still could be planning to try and prevent the prophecy, “the boy will be your downfall.” Although if he does, I expect a self-fulfilling prophecy – for example, Rumple tries to kill Henry, fails, is found out by the others and they decide he is a true villain after all and not worthy of another chance. That’s just one way it could play out.

     I’m also dying to know (as I’m sure everyone else is) – What’s with the doll?! Anything that can instantly make Rumpelstiltskin break down and cry right in front of an enemy… well, that’s got to be some good backstory. And speaking of backstory, I also can’t wait to find out when and how Rumple and Pan have crossed paths in the past. They’re setting it up for some potentially fantastic flashback scenes. And I love a good backstory, which is one of the many reasons I love this show.

Peter Pan

     On the subject of Pan… I still can’t believe they made him evil! Well, according to what I’ve been reading lately on Tumblr, he was fairly evil in the original story, before the animation made him all kid-friendly. But still. Anyway, I was fairly surprised when the Lost Boy who helped Henry turned out to be Pan, although looking back it should’ve been obvious. What does he need “the heart of the truest believer” for? And is he planning on ripping it out, a la Rumpelstiltskin? Maybe using it to control Henry? (Because we all know the show’s writers wouldn’t kill Henry.) Or is there some other way he can use it?

Baelfire, Mulan, & Co.

     While all this was going on in Neverland, Baelfire/Neal was in the Enchanted Forest, teaming up with Mulan, Aurora, and Phillip. But what actually happened with their group in this episode wasn't as interesting to me as the missing pieces. For example, the last we heard, the Wraith had sucked out Phillip's soul, and Aurora and Mulan were looking for a way to restore him. Now he's suddenly with them again. What did we miss? How did they do it?

     I also feel the intense need for some Mulan backstory. We know how she got teamed up with Phillip, through the whole Yaoguai incident, but it seems like she might have stronger feelings for him than she wants anyone to know. What's that all about? And are we ever going to see Li Shang, her love interest from the animated movie? (BTW... "What's a movie?" Hilarious!) In this episode, when Baelfire was telling her about Emma, Mulan said "Your belief in love wasn't strong enough to overcome your fear of rejection." She seemed like she was speaking from experience, so I'm hoping that's foreshadowing some flashbacks that will fill in the blanks of Mulan's past.

Once Upon a Time... in Wonderland?!

     One last interesting tidbit to add… Once Upon a Time in Wonderland's premiere episode is coming out this Thursday! I was thinking it was a far-off-in-the-future sort of thing, or I would’ve written about it in my previous post. And according to this video, the Wonderland story starts out in Storybrooke! Check it out for that and more info, plus an awesome preview:

 Let me know what you thought of the first episode of season three, and the Wonderland preview, as well as any guesses about what's up next for either series. Thanks for reading! Okay, I’ve gotta go… The second episode already aired, and I promised myself I wouldn’t watch it until I finished this post! Off to!