Monday, June 8, 2020

Player Profiles - David Cotton

On Saturday, May 30th, 2020, one of my closest friends passed away. 

David Cotton, mentioned numerous times throughout the online history of this blog, suffered a heart attack as a result of a seizure. I was informed on Thursday, June 4th, but our mutual friend Eric, who was contacted by Dave's mother earlier that day.

Last night, from 6 pm to roughly 11 pm, Dave's friends including myself (who facilitated the event) held an online Memorial, sharing memories, telling stories, and of course recounting his many RPG characters and exploits. Eight members of our circles of friends showed up with calls, messages, and emails from literally dozens of others sending their love and sadness over his passing and their regret over not being about to attend live. A post on Facebook related to the new gained over 40 comments and nearly 60 likes/hearts in just a day and a half.

I first met David Cotton about 14 or 15 years ago when I decided to run a campaign of Mutants & Masterminds at my FLGS, The Compleat Strategist, in New York City. My wife and I had separated a year or so before and I hadn't gamed since. Gaming was such a big part of our time together and it didn't bring me joy any longer to do it without her. That was until I realized not doing it, not doing something I really loved, was preventing me from moving on and so I set up this Superhero campaign and opened the table to anyone who wanted in. 

At first I got some old friends and acquaintances I'd met over the years of shopping at the store and working in the retail game industry myself. It was a good sized group right off the bat, maybe six or seven players. Then a fellow came in, saw us getting ready, and asked what game we were running. This was Dave.

He came up with a character concept based on one he'd made for fun (not specifically for gaming) and I fudged his stats and such for the 'Session Zero' introduction. He returned the following session and from there on in never missed a game. In addition he brought in his cousin and later another friend. 

That campaign was easily one of my best Superhero games ever and the largest, with an average of 9 players showing up monthly and a maximum of 12. Dave was a key part of making the game entertaining and over time we learned we had a lot of interests in common beyond games. We shared a love of the same foods, films, social concerns, and many other details. Amazingly his birthday was February 11th. Mine is the 12th. 

Dave's A-List Superhero Characters
(Only a small portion of the ones he'd created)

IMPACT!, Silver Sun, Night Knight, and Anthem

The following fifteen years or so saw us becoming really close friends, discussing some of life's best and worst moments. From hirings to firings, found loves to break-ups, Dave was always there with warm, intelligence, and honesty. And I gave it all right back because that is what true friends do, even, no especially when times are tough. 

He was also a great sounding board for ideas; creative and supportive but honest when he didn't like something or thought is could be better. He coined a number of phrases and concepts that still stick with me and always will about the creative process, how I myself do things, and how things can be done. We didn't always agree. We definitely had our differences of opinion but we shared a love a reasonable discussion and debate. We changed each others minds as often as we patted each other on the back. 

He would say, "I am a Reese's guy. I want some chocolate in my peanut butter." This was his way of explaining why he would combine two or more genres together to me, how can sometimes be a setting purist. 

When I would get confused or even frustrated over what to run he would say, "Adam, you make too kinds of campaigns: Summer Blockbusters and Indie Art Films.The Blockbusters aren't as close to your heart but they always go over well. Doing them earns you the credit and good will to suggest the Art film".

Mobile Suit Pilot Dane Bradley and his GM Striker

We would also spoke about our views on racial justice and equality that ring through my head continuously in our current world situation. I regret that I will never hear his thoughts on this past week. I, and others, will not get to know his take on what can be done to make things right and make them better. 

Universally, every person I have ever spoken to about Dave, whether they were close to him or had only met him once for a game at a Convention, described him the same way - One of the truly good people on this Earth. Kind, supportive, compassionate, confident not only in his own abilities, his own success, but in yours.

The Lady Luck, caracca of the Half-Elven Pirate Hero Jorvan StarsByNight

You believed him too, because his belief in himself and in you was a like a force of nature. It was like a hurricane. 

The winds have died down. The storm is over. Only memories remain. 

Through the memories, I hope to retain a spark of Dave's lightning within me always. 

So long my friend,

Barking Alien


  1. Ugh. Sorry for your sounds like David was a good friend, and a great gamer. I'm sure his imagination, play, and contributions (both to your table and your life) will be missed. I'm glad you were able to celebrate his life and share memories in an on-line service.

    Condolences, man.

  2. Sorry to hear about this BA - I've lost people over the years but not a friend like you describe here. I thought his take on your two types of campaigns was a great take.

    With that much history I'm sure he will be coming up in thoughts and conversations with you and your other friends for years to come.

  3. That really sucks. Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. You have our condolences.