“Oh, my home is unimportant, a boring little demiplane where little of import happens. Not at all like the elemental purity of the Inner Planes or the infinite variety of the Prime’s Crystal Spheres. Have you ever noticed how the spheres of the Prime vary according to their substance/belief ratio? Fascinating….”
-B. Thames avoiding a question
Beyond the fact that he came to manhood in a remote demiplane in the Ethereal, little is known of Thames’ early years. Whenever the subject comes up he cheerfully deflects it with a self-depreciating air. Speculation on the dark of his background runs rampant. What is known, and documented, is his migration to the Prime as a young mage. Having wandered the inner planes and the depths of the Ethereal he still had the wanderlust of a new planewalker. For twelve years he traveled the crystal spheres of the Prime, hiring himself out as a helmsman for many spelljammers traveling The Maelstrom, using Twilitespace as his home base.
It was during his time spelljamming that he became fascinated with the way the influence of the Powers fluctuated from sphere to sphere. Although many laughed at his comparison of the crystal spheres of the Prime to the demiplanes of the Ethereal, there were a few who took careful note. Many a long night aboard ship were filled with debate on the subject as he accosted every cleric and mage in the crew with his theories. It is even bandied about that he once was laughed out of a meeting of the Seekers when propounding his views.
“Pass me another ale and I’ll try to explain. Have you ever been to another plane? No….Well, you know how The Crystal Spheres float in The Flow? Good. Now according to my theories the phlogiston itself is actually the Prime Material Plane, and the spheres are like different planes that float within it. Since they are limited in size they would actually be what we call demiplanes. I think the phlogiston creates a lensing effect, and the spheres are created where it blends inner planar substance with outer planar anima. No? sigh… Alright, pass me an ale and some of that roast skykine and I’ll start again….”
-B. Thames, aboard the Hanali’s Sword en route to The Maelstrom
Discovering a doorway to the Infinite Stair in Songspace, he set off for the Outer Planes; never once looking back. It is shown in the records of the Planewalkers Guild that he was brought to their encampment while near death by one of the Lilendi who tend the stair, his wounds seemed to be of fiendish origin. After being nursed back to health he joined the guild and set out on his own, taking the Stair towards the Outlands.
Even the Guvvners have only spotty information about the next several years as he wandered the Great Ring and beyond. It is sometime during this phase that he began to show his skills at crosstrading, as evinced by the fact that what little records there are of him during this time tend to be receipts or bills of lading. There is evidence of his visiting The Crop Circles of Arvandor, The Cutters Vineyard in Sigil , The Seventh Ratatosk and Commerce Park in Bytopia among other exotic locales during this period. It is also during this time that his primary wife, Alusa, was first seen to be traveling with him. They are said to have met on the Infinite Stair and to have married shortly thereafter. It is worthy of note that records show an increase in the number of trips Thames took to Arborea, his new wife’s home plane, after the marriage.
“Ah, yes. I see it in my mind as though it were yesterday. The roiling stuff of raw chaos around her brightened as a smile broke across her face. The beauty of her celestial heritage flared, tiny blue sparks flashed within her eyes, and my heart leaped within my chest as she took my hand and softly said, “yes!””
-B. Thames, on proposing to his first wife Alusa
Over the next eleven years Thames became easier to track due to his assumption of greater and greater duties with the Guild. With Alusa at his side he took an active part in the Guild’s efforts at planar cartography. While still considered a bit of a radical for his position concerning the spheres of the Prime being akin to demiplanes on the Ethereal, his work was uniformly detailed and of high quality. He also showed a knack for diplomacy, navigating the wide array of planar cultures with relative ease. His only notable failure in this period was an attempt to map parts of the Hinterlands. After disappearing for three years with Alusa and a band of ten experienced planewalkers he and his wife were found by the rogue modron Individual 23 near the base of the Spire. Neither of them remembered anything of the expedition beyond their departure. The rest of the group was never seen again. To this day Thames and his wife become reticent to speak when this incident is mentioned.
After their harrowing experience in the Hinterlands, Thames and Alusa stayed to the more traveled pathways, traveling extensively on the Via Romana and the River Styx. They were also seen often in Sigil, bartering maps and information. It is notable that during these visits to the Cage they would often frequent the Civic Festhall, particularly when the tieffer bard Teloja and her mandolin were there. Thee three would often be seen reveling ’til peak after the shows. Few were surprised when Teloja left with them on their next foray into the planes. Most were somewhat surprised to discover that she also married Thames, in an Efreet ceremony performed in the City of Brass! The striking trio of human mage with his Assimar and Tiefling wives rapidly became well known and while none espoused any faction, they were familiar faces at Sensate revels across the planes.
“Troika my dears, try some of this! Its wavoosh, gaseous liquor from the Elemental Plane of Air! Ah………….yes. Quite unique and delightful, eh? So what is in store for us this evening, you wicked creature?”
-B. Thames, at a Sensate party in The Cage
When Davrillith Kithradin, head of Planar Cartography for the Guild, met an unfortunate demise in Nimicri (during a rather peery arrangement involving at least three different ‘Loths) Thames was tapped to take his place. His first duty in this position was leading an expedition mapping the borders of the quasi-elemental planes. Journeying first to the Ethereal for a quick trip to his home demiplane, he added a native guide named Silar to his party. After several months of traveling between the Ethereal and the various quasi-elemental planes, they returned to the Planewalkers Guild encampment on the Everclimb to collate their research.
From this point on Silar became a constant companion to the trio, accompanying them on expedition after expedition. During this time Silar married into Thames’ extended family during the Sensate celebrations of the month of Savorus in the Cage. The four then began a tour of the gatetowns as a honeymoon.
Thames and his wives are utterly devoted to each other, a seeming case of “true love.” While their multiple marriage is slightly unusual, it is by no means an unknown arrangement in the planes. The four of them are perfect complements to each other, Thames relying on the quick sword of Alusa as well as the diplomatic skills of Teloja and Silar when traveling. Rarely is one of them seen without at least one other accompanying them.
“I tells ya true, its blekking peery! You’ll ne’er see one of them alone, they always go out in pairs at least. Its like The Us. What? The Us! Cranium rats what share a mind, run loose in The Cage. Them four are like that, seem to share a mind. Unsavory to say the least! It ain’t no salad-story cutter. Watch their eyes….”
-Ving The Nose, bubber at The Portal Jammer, Market Ward
As the years went by Thames distinguished himself not only by expanding the amount of cartographic knowledge at the Guild’s disposal, but also by turning a profit on it by selling it to the Guvvners and other interested parties, often mercantile ones. These profits in turn went to finance more and more exotic expeditions, such as journeying to the point where the Infinite Staircase meets the blinding light of the Positive Energy Plane and the Indian power Brahma, Lord of Creation, holds sway. It was there that Thames acquired the statues “spoken into being,” that decorate his Sigilian Offices.
This is also the period of his infamous climbing of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Chant is that much like the Power Odin, he was granted knowledge of magic runes during the ordeal. He denies having this knowledge when asked, but those who observe him note that he never seems to need spell keys, no matter what plane he is casting on. The ease with which he extends and maximizes his combat castings make these claims seem a bit less barmy.
“You must learn to walk where there is no land. You must learn to see without eyes. You must learn to swim where there is no water. You must learn to fly where there is no sky. Only then can you become a true planeswalker.”
-An old planeswalker saying
When the Faction War broke out there were ripples throughout the planes. The Infinite Stair, the River Oceanus, the River Styx, and other planar pathways suddenly filled with planewalkers; planewalkers diverted from a Sigil whose portals had closed. Guildmaster Hav’run Thain and his party disappeared along with many others during this turmoil. All the factions began to consolidate their resources across the planes, worried that Sigil was lost. The Planewalkers Guild suddenly found its members in demand, as more indirect routes for crosstrade were needed. Thames took the initiative and contacted Snail Outfitters, The Planar Trade Consortium, the Etherfarers Guild and many more, proposing a joint effort to take advantage of the chaos. Not only would it be profitable for all, but is would vastly expand the range of resources each organization could draw upon.
“Emil, you simply must see the importance of rapid action here. With The Cage cut off, everyone is taking to the pathways. Our members are in great demand as guides. With your infrastructure and gear, and our expertise and numbers we can certainly achieve a mutually profitable scenario.”
-B. Thames to Emil Trawet, GM of Snail Outfitters, during the Tempest of Doors
Soon it became obvious that their Minotaur Guildmaster was long overdue. Thames and Teoyantico Natiuu (Pr / Male Human / Ftr 8 Sor 5 / LN), a Maztican Jaguar Warrior more adept at planewalking than many native to the outer planes, found the brunt of the duties falling upon them. They would surely have failed if it had not been for Thames’ wives, who kept things organized and working during the Tempest of Doors. As Sigil went longer and longer without contact, Planewalking Guides were at a premium. The Guild saw a massive influx of new members. Once the portals opened again, Thames took the initiative and began campaigning to return to the Guild’s former halls within The Cage. In fact, it became part of his platform as he began to push for the position of Guildmaster. This brought him into conflict with Natiuu, who was preparing a similar bid for power. There were several months of deliberation and fierce debate before Thames was awarded the title. Part of what carried the day for him was an impassioned pleading of his case by one of the Lilendi that maintains the Everclimb. Natiuu has maintained a stoic silence on the subject of his former friend since his loss, and the two no longer speak directly.
Since then, Thames has reinstated the guild in Planewalkers Hall in the Market Ward of Sigil. He has been quite busy meeting with everyone from Shemeska the Marauder to Tavist Aller Sinache of Stray Manor as he creates a network of alliances in the vacuum left by the Lady’s Edict. Lucrative arrangements have already been established with Snail Outfitters and the Planar Trade Consortium, with more in the works. Most recently he has been seen dining in venues around the Cage with Lissandra the Gateseeker, Guildmistress of the Doorsnoops Guild. Rumor holds that they are working out an alliance in spite of the friction between their memberships. Recently he has been spending a lot of time at parties thrown by House Seven Stars, a spelljamming merchant house that owns Stray Manor in the Lady’s Ward. It is said that they are brokering deals between the Guild and a Prime based organization called the Seekers…
“We can help each other prosper, pure and simple. Just think of it: garnish for the portal’s location; garnish for the key, garnish for finding a guide; garnish for the guide; garnish for gear….Our members get work as guides. Snail’s gives all our members discounts and commission on sales they make. Your people make a cut of anything they set up, as well as having the Guild and Snails send you those berks that need portals found. There is strength and safety in collaboration. ”
-B. Thames to Lissandra the Gateseeker
Some question the choice of returning to Sigil. In the wake of the Faction War, the Cage is no longer quite as much of a crossroads as it once was. Many tarmy Planewalkers feel that there is another major shakeup looming for the city. After all, the portals got shut down and scrambled during the Faction War, and again when Vecna tried to break the Cage (see Die, Vecna, Die! by TSR), so the Rule of Threes is as yet incomplete…
Balthasar Thames (planar / male human / wizard 13 / chaotic good) Male human Wizard 13: CR 13; med humanoid; HD HD 13d4+13; hp 52; Init +5; Spd 30 ft. ft; AC AC 19, touch 14, FF 18; Base Atk BAB +6/+1; Grapple +8; Melee Unarmed +8/+3; Grp ; Atk ; SA ; AL CG; SV Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +12; Str 14, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 14, Cha 15. Skills and Feats: Craft (Alchemy) +12, Concentration +17, Decipher Script +15, Diplomacy +14, Knowledge (Arcana) +21, Knowledge (History) +9, Knowledge (Planes) +21, Knowledge (Religion) +10, Profession (Herbalist) +6, Profession (Merchant) +18, Spellcraft +23, Knowledge (The Blood War) +9, Profession (Phlo Navigator) +4, Profession (Wildspace Navigator) +4; Combat Casting, Endurance, Extend Spell, Greater Spell Penetration, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Maximize Spell, Scribe Scroll, Spell Penetration.
Speaks: Common, Infernal, Celestial, Terran, Draconic, Ignan. Special Abilities:
Possessions: Bracers of armor +5, Necklace of adaptation, Ring of protection +3, 3 Masterwork daggers (1 Baatorian Green Steel, 1 Tanaar’ri Red Steel, 1 Solanian Truesteel).
Jandor’s Music Box , Moebius Ring, Planewalker’s Belt
(Pl / Female Assimar / Ftr 10 / CG)
Tall and blonde, Alusa is Thames’ first wife. Sweet natured and extremely diplomatic for a sword slinger, she is nonetheless formidable when angered. Alusa is usually the one who acts as Thames’ representative when he is otherwise engaged. She has a weakness for feywine and Bytopian cheese.
(Pl / Female Tiefling / Brd 9 / NG)
This gorgeous tiefling is known throughout the Cage for her performances at the Civic Festhall. Described by Akin the Friendly Fiend as having a “voice like bloodwasp honey,.” which she attributes to a distant Succubus relative. She is the rowdy one of the three, often intoxicated and ready to start a revel at a moments notice. She is quick to anger, but also quick to forgive.
(Pl / Female Fire Genasi / Rog 9 / CG)
Slender and waiflike, Silar is generally much quiter and calmer than the average fire genasai. She struggles to master her excitable nature, and succeeds most of the time. She is one of the few planars that is actually sympathetic to the Clueless, having experienced some degree of prejudice due to her inner planar nature. Do not let her fool you though, while she is quietly standing in the background she watches and notes everything around her. Thames relies on her to catch details he may miss.Associates
(Pl / Male Human / Rog 6 Gatecrasher 6 / N)
House Seven Stars / Stray Manor (Ladys Ward, Sigil)
Born on the Prime to Tiefling parents, Finn showed little evidence of his family heritage. Leaving at an early age he migrated to the Astral and lived there for the majority of his youth, he then travelled widely studying under the Efreet on the Plane of Fire and learning the Art of The Deal in Nimicri. A silver tongued rogue who can talk his way into just about anything, he has become a good friend to Thames in recent months.
(Pr / Male Shadow Human / Clr 23 / NG)
High Priest of The Pan Dimensional Temple of Celestian in Sigil. While his origins are unknown (despite repeated scrying attempts) he is rumored to be from an exotic Prime where magic is impaired (d20 Modern:Urban Arcana). He is reknowned for his level headed wisdom and fairness. A short man with thinning sandy hair, Ronaldo rose to High Priest about twenty years ago and has weathered much in the cage since. He will always find a way to make time to listen to traveller’s tales, which he views as an expression of Celstian worship.
Lissandra the Gateseeker
Guildmistress of the Doorsnoops Guild
Allies: Guildmaster of The Planewalkers Guild, business partnership with Snail Outfitters