|Canon||Silent Hill 2|
|Abilities||Toilet fishing, puzzle solving|
|Known Allies||Clara Murphy, Vivi|
|First Arena||Arena 14|
Before the GamesEdit
James was born in the town of South Ashfield to his parents Frank Sunderland and his unnamed wife. Not much is known about James' childhood growing up, though files in Silent Hill 4 tell us he might have helped his father with managing the apartment complex. It's during a party at a friend's house that James met Mary Shepherd, presumably unrelated to the Shepherd family in the neighboring Shepherd's Glen. Their love was one for the ages as the passion became something stable and deep.
Before Mary and James were married, James would listen to Mary play the piano. Mary liked to play the piano and even though she wasn't very good at it, James still loved to hear her play. Prior to the events of Silent Hill 2, Mary and James decided to take a vacation in Silent Hill after reading a brochure for the town. They stayed in the Lakeview Hotel, where James recorded a videotape of Mary. Mary stated in the videotape that she loved the town and would love to go to Silent Hill again one day. James accidentally forgot the videotape in the hotel and the couple left Silent Hill.
Three years prior to the game, Mary was struck with a terminal disease, and she deteriorated to the point of having violent mood swings, lashing out at James in anger. Her doctor predicted she would have less than three years left to live and told James that there was no effective treatment for her condition. James questioned Mary's doctors about her illness, and could not believe they would just let Mary die. He searched through medical books for information about Mary's illness, but never found anything useful. Later in her illness, James visited Mary less frequently because she was emotionally volatile. Her mood swings left him bewildered about what was "right" to do.
James began to "drink a fair bit" to escape his pain and loneliness, but it never changed anything. James felt sexual frustration, but felt prevented from pursuing it by his marriage to Mary; this frustration is later expressed by the character of Maria, as well as several creatures during James's quest in the town. Mary became a burden on James and he slowly began to resent her; yet simultaneously, seeing the one he loved in such pain tormented him. The emotional trauma and emptiness left James in a constant state of mourning. Eventually he snapped, walked to Mary's bed and kissed her on her forehead before suffocating her with a pillow.
Three days later, James drives to Silent Hill, intending to kill himself in the town he and his wife cherished to be with her in death. James is not the only one called to Silent Hill; two others, Eddie Dombrowski and Angela Orosco, have been drawn to the town by similar forces. However, before he arrives, his mind snaps from the trauma of killing Mary and he represses the memory. Instead, he becomes convinced that Mary has been dead for three years and he has received a posthumous letter from her.
During the GamesEdit
James was literally fished out of Toluca Lake when he was reaped, ready to die with Mary. Physically speaking, James isn't that noteworthy of a man to stand out in a crowd, though he was sopping wet when he first came along. His first acquaintance was Daryl Dixon and later Emily Finch, both unnerved with the incoherent babbling James displayed.
His external persona in the Capitol is that of a grieving widower, introspective and gentle, but above all reckless and in search for any clues about that which intrigues him, such as his wife somehow being alive. He tends to act in irrational ways (because really, who jumps into five holes that take them further into the depths of hell) and makes decisions that no one in their right mind would ever do, such as the infamous toilet scene. This is due to James is still reeling from the break of reality that arose from murdering his wife Mary not too long after visiting Silent Hill. Inside, James is a fractured man, stuck between the dream he built in which his wife died from the disease and truth. In his default state, James truly believes that Mary died of her disease and actively seeks her out among the crowds or monster-infested tourist towns.
It's during one of those searches that James finds Vivi, a strange child in the park who was very alone. From this came a bond that Sunderland felt akin to what Mary and Laura had, making him extremely protective of the mage. During this time, James would meet the Victor of Arena 13: Tony Stark, with him he'd later share a publicity "date" in the Capitol. Another fateful encounter happened during Tony Stark's Coronation, as James would then meet Clara Murphy, a recently widowed offworld Mentor. Something about Clara's sadness and kind demeanor reminded the former clerk of Mary and allowed himself to flirt and comfort her as best he could.
Arena 14 would test James's sanity as the break in reality worsened and he infamously began to hallucinate his dead wife in the Arena. He managed to survive two weeks into the event before he ran into a clearly exhausted Anna. Tired of being stuck in the Arenas, the princess managed to stab Sunderland repeatedly in the back before he broke her nose and got away. James would meet his end in the Church, facing off Zed in his Darkness form.
James bore no ill will towards Anna and as soon as he came back, he offered her a gift and his sincere condolences when he heard about her losses. He also taught Vivi how to swim during one of the Tribute Youth Program events, strengthening their bond. But it's with Clara that he has made the most strides in recovering his pre-Silent Hill self, as he feels an affection towards her that, along with therapy, have helped him move on from Mary's death. His goal has now become being able to tell her what he did as freely as he did with Linden during the District Carnival.
Arena 15 opened with the reaping of the native children, something James was horrified to learn along with Stark's execution. This time around, Sunderland decided to take control over his own fate and became more active in helping people in the Cornucopia, escaping the ruthless Batter from D2 as best he can. His mind may have slipped when he spotted a Closer, a creature from Silent Hill (and similar to the Mandarin) but he nonetheless recovers enough to help Firo Prochainezo out of the bind.
It's this very slip in James's mind that prompts him to press a strange button.
- Creative puzzle solving (yes really)
- Laughably terrible marksmanship
- Strong stomach
- Token: His broken pocket radio
- James tends to have moments of lucidity, more so after Arena 14, in which he realizes what he has done, and shields himself from any accusations to that matter. He genuinely believes he did what he did not just out of pity but out of a selfish need to be free. This in turn makes him susceptible to being manipulated or feel guilty over past mistakes.