James Barnes is a commander within the Meritocratic Navy.
Personality & appearance
When the Rangers first meet Barnes in season 1, he is very fit, more slight than bulky, and has a crew cut. He's young for a commander. His walk is clipped and purposeful; he seems very with-it and efficient, despite his Northern accent. He likes people who work for what they want, and dislikes rich people who have been placed in the best positions without working for it. He doesn't see the point of money and resents those who control it.
His uniform fits his well, and while there's a bit of brocade, it's solely to identify rank, and not ostentatious. He wears a magical ring that's not particularly powerful and a piece of clothing on his torso that has faint Conjuration magic in it.
When the party encounters him again in season 4, Barnes has a significantly less formal, more pirate-like appearance. Although he still has some military regalia, including his military coat, there is no frippery to it, and his shirt is unbuttoned to his navel. He also wears an elaborate hat with an elegant feather coming out of it, which he did not have during season 1. Despite his flamboyant dress, he remains fairly reserved and austere in manner, with a restrained tone of voice. He prefers environments, such as the Navy, in which he can feel certain about his decisions; he's not a fan of secrecy and suspicion.
Gains a scar in an airship crash in RQG 174.
Barnes says he has occasionally been known to duel; it turns out that he's a formidable fighter with his adamantine sword. His fighting style is very showy and swashbuckler-like, and he has the Dazzling Display feat. Within the navy, he commands a thirty-gunner ship, which is one of the fastest ships in this area of the country.
"A long time ago," Barnes rescued a merchant vessel. The merchant, Croesus, dealt in old adamantine, and insisted Barnes take a sword as a prize: old adamantine duelling sword, worth 3,120 gold (significantly higher value than an officer would usually be able to afford.) It's incredibly elaborate; the blade is made of a fractal pattern. It's similar to the katana but is one-handed, and exceptionally well-balanced.
At one point, Barnes thought he might settle down with a "young gentleman," but this man died at sea.
The party first encounters Barnes when he is stuck in Dover due to prolonged storms. He thanks them for helping with the riot at the docks and escorts all of them back to the naval academy, explaining the current tension between the Cult of Poseidon and the merchants. He is extremely bored and frustrated by the storms.
Barnes shows repeated interest in Zolf's sailing career and looks him up, eventually arresting him, though he takes no pleasure in it. He also takes a special interest in Sasha, advising her to get better companions. He is mostly cold toward Hamid and Bertie, although he is more willing to speak to Hamid than he is to Bertie.
Barnes is part of a team recruited by Wilde following the infiltration of the Meritocracy, as revealed by Zolf in episode 129. According to Wilde in 130, Barnes is useful because he is still nominally working within the Meritocracy. He stayed in the Navy for a while after the apocalypse began, even while his orders became strange and bad. Eventually, his commanding officer ordered him to fire on civilians, so Barnes killed him.
In episode 179, Cel reveals that they're interested in Barnes via flirting with him, saying that being back in his regular body suits him. Barnes is awkward and stammers in response, but is also clearly interested in Cel as well.
As of episode 192, Barnes is known to still be in the Ursans' settlement. He reappears with several other NPCs in the finale to help the party.
Is dead by Epilogue 3.
- It took 136 episodes between meeting Barnes and learning his first name.
- Barnes is excellent at darts.