Character Concepts: Sam

Last post I talked a bit about Raye. While she’s the foremost main character out of the five whose POVs get the most attention, the most central character to the plot is Sam. Although he has very few POV scenes outside of flashbacks, he’s the reason why everyone is where they are at the outset of Strange Company.

A full body image of Sam smiling and posing in a tee shirt and jeans, plus three smaller sketches of Sam making different expressions
Some concept sketches of Sam

Sam Donovan hasn’t gone by his Saintly name in a long…long time. Not since the gods stripped him of his position and ousted him from the Aether after he pulled certain transgressions.

He’s outgoing, gregarious, and, at times, flat out obnoxious. A “you either love him or hate him” kind of guy who often tests the patience even of those most tolerant of him. That’s gotten him into trouble more than once.

He and his sister Uriel are the co-founders of Arkon, the company that sponsors the excavation. The two of them had a “difference of opinion” over the project, however, so Sam left town and vanished without a trace. Efforts to locate him proved fruitless, setting off waves of public speculation. He returns over a year later after catching wind of what’s happened at the dig.

Two half body color sketches of Sam. On the left, he’s dressed in a suit, wears his hair slicked back, and is clean shaven. On the right, his hair is longer and worn loose, he has a scraggly beard, and holds a beat up cattleman hat in his hands and wears a stained shirt.
Sam before his year-long disappearance (left) and on his return (right)

At six and a half feet tall, Sam cuts an imposing figure and towers over most everyone around him. I wanted to give him a muscular build with the large shoulders to match. Give him that larger than life feel. He’s big both in stature and in personality, and is therefore impossible to miss.

Because he can’t die, he’s reckless and has a self-destructive streak. His skin is covered in centuries’ worth of scars, though the most prominent is the one on his left arm, which he’d almost lost once. The how gets answered in-story, so I won’t talk about it here.

Before his disappearance, he preferred to keep his face clean-shaven. When he rolls back into town, he’s sporting a beard since he’s been “off the grid” for the better part of a year. He trades in his tattered clothing for a pressed suit, his long hair and battered cattleman hat for a shorter combed back style, and his beat up old boots for a shined up pair of dress shoes. He opts to keep the beard, though, after Gabriel complements it.

A set of portrait shots of Sam with different eye colors: copper, red, brown, blue, light green, and sea green
An older sketch where I tried out different eye colors for Sam.

In Sam’s original design, he had red eyes. While he was once able to change his eye color at will, he’s since lost that ability. So, after playing around with a few different colors, I settled on green eyes for him. Since he and Uriel are twins, I also changed her eye color from blue to green.

Three full body outfit designs for Sam. From left to right: One: Sam in a dark gray tee, dark wash jeans, and sneakers. Two: Sam in a gray suit, black dress shoes, and a red tie. He’s holding a coffee cup. Three: Sam in an off-white long sleeved henley shirt, whiskered jeans, and socks.
Three outfits that Sam will potentially wear in-story.

Sam’s attire falls under two modes: casual and business. For the former, he favors tees and jeans, and for the latter, well-cut suits in blacks and grays with ties in solid colors. Despite his loud personality, he tends towards muted tones. This wasn’t always the case, and he’s changed his style many a time over the ages.

A portrait sketch of Sam wearing a black v neck tee shirt and grinning.
Another portrait sketch of Sam!

The two people Sam has remained closest to over the year are Uriel and Gabriel. He and his sister still aren’t on the best of terms upon his return, and he even tries to hide from her for as long as he can. He enlists Gabriel to help with this, much to Gabriel’s simultaneous annoyance and delight.

The three of them have a deep interest in the ruins, and what’s buried within them. When Raye, Sam’s niece, accidentally sets an angry spirit loose within the underground city, Sam is drawn out of hiding. It’s the key to Sam’s potential return to the Aether, after all.

Portrait sketches of Sam and a spirit standing in profile, facing each other.
Sam standing face to face with the spirit Raye accidentally sets loose in the underground ruins.

So in addition to character spotlights, I want to focus on the settings in Strange Company. Coming up next post: a look at the underground ruins at the center of the Old Mekoda excavation.

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