While complete at the publication of the first edition, DiTillio’s Australia Chapter remained excluded from the MoN campaign until the 3rd edition in 1996. From the initial release of the adventure, Sir Aubrey Penhew has hammed it up on the center stage as the campaign’s feature villain enjoying a luxury yacht, a volcano lair, and a diabolical nom de plume. We strongly believe that Dr. Robert Ellington Huston deserves a more sophisticated and dramatic role commensurate with his expertise and charisma. Here we discuss Huston, his valuable skills, and options for an expanded role in your MoN campaign.
An Expanded Backstory
The young Robert Huston grew up in the shadow of his two older brothers and his successful physician father in Chicago. While never discussed in the Huston household, Robert would frequently overhear whispers amongst classmates about his father’s youthful affiliation with sordid and deviant sex cults. Often alone in a large house, he would entertain himself with some of the more disturbing and graphic texts in his father’s personal library. In poring over these strange works hidden on high shelves, he felt he could understand his reserved father better.
An exceptional student, Robert completed his medical degree with honors from Johns Hopkins and undertook training in circulatory ailments at Fordham University under the guidance of Louis Faugères Bishop. Through this mentorship, Huston began to understand the great value of technological advances, as Bishop frequently traveled to Europe to study electrocardiography, fluoroscopy, and other emerging techniques.
Despite these novelties, Huston remained unfulfilled and restless in his personal and professional life, so he shuttered his practice, divorced his loyal wife, and moved to Vienna with a young French ballerina to study psychoanalysis with founder Sigmund Freud. Behind him, he left a trail of lascivious swirling rumors reminiscent of those passed among his young schoolmates.
An eager student, Huston immersed himself in Freud’s theories on the unconscious, dreams, and sexuality, but experienced disappointment at the founder’s inflexible ideas. When a schism began to develop with Carl Jung, Huston departed Vienna for Switzerland to study under the more open-minded psychiatrist, who refused to be restricted by the scientific method. Huston spent two more years practicing at the Zurich school where he absorbed Jung’s developing ideas on myth-based dream work, as well as the nascent concepts of the collective unconscious and shadow.
After nearly three years abroad, Huston returned to New York City and opened his psychiatric practice catering to an exclusive and wealthy clientele. His avant-garde training and roguish good looks drew crowds of admirers and flatterers; eventually, whispers resumed amongst the medical community concerning exploitation of vulnerable female patients. With the help of Carlyle, Huston avoided impending legal repercussions stemming from the suicide of his patient and lover, Imelda Bosch. In exchange, he reluctantly agreed to accompany Roger on his journey to Egypt.
Huston’s Role in the Expedition
Once Huston gets blackmailed into the adventure, he fades into the background. He receives a brief appearance in the campaign book (p. 321) looking tanned and well-fed with a worried smile on his face after an honorary dinner in Cairo. He then willingly participates in the journey into the Bent Pyramid along with the other expedition principals, but we cannot help to ask – why?
We like to imagine that Huston cannot escape his carnal nature, and may have succumbed to another seduction by M’Weru, who understands the doctor’s role in the Great Plot. Perhaps she also uses this additional affair to torture and further manipulate Roger. After all, he knows how captivating Roger has found her, and he may not be able to resist such an appealing conquest. Alternatively, the lecherous Huston may have become taken with the young and emotionally vulnerable Hypatia. You may choose to hint at these potential entanglements whenever Investigators ask about the expedition in London and Egypt. Outfitters, journalists, and hotel staff may have noticed some questionable behavior and unsavory looks by Huston, which can help establish a strong dislike for this NPC before an Australian encounter.
In Kenya, Huston is described by another NPC as “very aloof,” and he participates, possibly drunkenly, in a failed ritual with Penhew to resurrect Colonel Endicott’s dead wife and child. The change in Huston’s typically gregarious attitude may be due to his M’Weru and/or Hypatia spurning him after the Bent Pyramid. It could simply be a reflection of his exploding god-complex and blossoming megalomania. On the other hand, we like to think he may be preoccupied with another realm entirely…