Cthulhu Redux (Masks of Nyarlathotep)
Dr. Sam Matabe
Japanese MD (toxicologist)
Saniiro “Sam” Matabe
M.D., Imperial University of Medicine, Kyoto, class of 1914
Pharm.D., Nagoya School of Pharmacy, class of 1917
Occupation: Toxicologist and Dilettante
Birthplace: Kyoto, Japan
Birthdate: August 10, 1892
Residence: (currently) Presidential Suite, Tilden Arms, Arkham, Mass.
Saniiro was born the second son and third child of Matabe Katsushiro, the head of the Matabe Trading Concern (a large conglomerate with offices throughout the Far East), and Matabe Akemi, a famed Kyoto socialite.
A serious, studious child, in contrast to his dynamic elder brother Daisuke, Saniiro spent much of his time reading, both in English and his native tongue. Although voracious in his reading, he was never quite as skilled as a scholar, until he was apprenticed to his uncle, Dr. Matabe Tachikawa, a Kyoto pharmacist of the Chinese school and the “black sheep” of his generation of Matabes.
Saniiro took to pharmacology as one born to it. Botany, biology, anatomy, all fields encompassed by that great umbrella “medicine,” were to him as nectar to the hummingbird. Early on, he discovered his particular passion, while sitting a death watch with his uncle over a patient who had been poisoned by strychnine. While not unfeeling for the man’s plight, Saniiro could not overcome the fascination he felt with the bizarre contortions and extreme reactions that the poisons were causing in their victim. Poisons were to become, and remain, his true love.
At the age of seventeen, having learned all that he could from his uncle’s practice, he applied to the Imperial Medical College and was accepted, despite lacking the proper pre-university education (his father’s money and mother’s connections had much to do with this). However, it was clear that Saniiro belonged here. He excelled at university, graduating third in his class with a top-flight degree in internal medicine. He went on to study toxins at the Nagoya Pharmacological College, acquiring another doctorate in the process. At this point, with the world embroiled in the turmoil of the Great War, Saniiro travelled to Shanghai, where he worked at the local office of Matabe Trading and spent his spare time acquiring expensive tastes in cars and liquor, when he wasn’t reading the latest toxicology report or tromping through the lands outside of the city, seeking out toxic plants to boil down in his laboratory.
With the Armistice, Saniiro felt freer about travelling, and his father felt that he had “done his time” in the company business. This feeling was reinforced by the talented and driven Daisuke, who was well-versed in all manner of business ventures and was ideally suited to take the reins from his father when the time came. Starting in China, Sanriio began his travels, studying the poisons, venoms, and infections of Russia, India, Burma, Nepal, the Middle East, and further. It was during this time, accompanied as he usually was by Americans or Englishmen (and one very beautiful Australian, the archaeologist Dr. Bernice Saunderfeld, currently at Oxford), that Saniiro started using the name “Samuel” or, more commonly, “Sam.”
Although in his youth, Sam had been somewhat desultory in his training in the traditional combat arts of his country, travel soon cured him of any such complacence. A slight figure, he learned quickly how to use the techniques of judo, Bartitsu, and other arts picked up here and there to turn a fight to his advantage; failing that, he resorted to his knowledge of anatomy and a swift knife-blade. In a souk in Turkey, he saved Dr. Saunderfeld’s life by felling an assailant with a strategic scalpel blade and a handful of ground peppers; their romantic relationship began that evening, and continued until they parted at Oxford; Sam hopes to renew their relationship at the conclusion of his current researches.
With his investments managed nimbly by his brother, Sam found himself without any need to
support himself, and dedicated himself wholly to his loves of travel and toxins. Currently, he has accepted a temporary research posting at Miskatonic University, working with Dr. Robert Angley (botanist) and Dr. Harold Shear (chemist). As of yet, he has been unsuccessful in gaining access to the restricted stacks at Orne Library (where many unique medieval herbals and manuals of poisons are said to be stored, amongst a mass of folklore nonsense), but he has confidence that polite persistence and patience will win the day. Until then he is more than happy to assist Angley and Shear in their experiments, and occasionally go out drinking, gambling, and so forth.
Though a Japanese Imperial citizen, Dr. Matabe is in fact licensed to practice both medicine and pharmacy in the United States, thanks to a diplomatic agreement between the two countries during their allegiance in the Great War. On the rare occasions that a fellow countryman is suffering from a medical emergency in the state of Massachusetts, or a very peculiar toxicological conundrum arrives at a medico’s door, it has become commonplace for emergency room attendants and parish doctors to ring Matabe’s suite at the Tilden, knowing that he’ll come at a moment’s notice in his 1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and to hells with the traffic laws.
Although perfectly fluent in English, Sam is not above faking incomprehension to his advantage, particularly in avoiding reckless driving arrests.