Cameron Klym, aka TOR VARSON
We recently sat down for a chat with Cameron Klym, long-time player of Avlis favorite Tor Varson,
to discuss his childhood, the origins of Tor, team relations, and 'the bad old days of Avlis.'
Seka: Cameron, thanks for agreeing to an interview. You're the first for Avlis's new newsletter. Impressive, right?
Cameron Klym: I feel at once both honoured and humbled.
Seka: I remember when I first encountered Tor - it must have been 2003. I saw this scantily clad guy in the wilds striking poses that showed off his rippling pecs. I have to admit, in the beginning I thought: is this a joke? Was Tor misunderstood in those days?
Cameron Klym: I think most players back then did not have a clue about Tor… so that’s safe to say. Most people probably thought Tor was just your stereotypical fantasy barbarian.
Seka: I might have had the impression at the start as well. But you've really developed your character beyond the cliché. I think he feels very real to a lot of people. What's your secret? *leans on her elbow and listens intently*
Cameron Klym: Well, he seems real to me at times… more so than me sometimes, however strange that might sound.
Seka: It doesn't sound strange at all. Kind of hard to know where he stops and you start … ?
Cameron Klym: Maybe...
Seka: Was there ever any question about what class you would play? Was there any chance we could be interviewing Tor the Pale Master now?
Cameron Klym: *laughs* NO! Was no question at all. In all my years of playing PnP RP Games and other so called RP games on computers and such, I never was able to play a character like Tor.
Seka: I didn't think so. Do you even have a single alt?
Cameron Klym: What is this alt thing you speak of? No, I am one of those RPers that really just likes to RP one character at a time.
Seka: So you did play pen-and-paper. Were you part of a regular group? Ever DM?
Cameron Klym: I did and I have on both accounts.
Seka: Really, you DM'd? What was that like?
Cameron Klym: Running a RP game to me is like telling a story… like a novel or a movie does… with the PCs as the main characters. It’s all about making things both interesting, suspenseful, mundane, terrifying and fun all at once.
Seka: Tell the truth: did you ever lie to your group about the results of a roll to make things more interesting?
Cameron Klym: I have done that at various times.
Seka: Good! It's a practice I wholeheartedly endorse. *laughs*
Cameron Klym: It’s hard for players to go so far, only to end up dead through no fault of their own and just due to bad die rolling.
Seka: Right. Unless they do something absolutely and pathetically stupid.
Cameron Klym: Seems we agree on that.
Seka: So back to the old times. Do you remember what first brought you to Avlis? How did you find out about it?
Cameron Klym: I do remember. A friend of mine was playing on here and he told me about Avlis.
Seka: Oh yeah? Who was it?
Cameron Klym: Spellsinger.
Seka: Spellsinger. Wait: that name's familiar. He played the Paladin, right?
Cameron Klym: Yes, he played a paladin of Gorethar by the name of Kaelyn MacCaddor.
Seka: Right. I -do- remember him! He and that awful dwarf causing so much trouble for us here in Mikona.
Cameron Klym: Yeah… Kharak, battle priest of Gorethar.
Seka: Right! That's the one. *shudders*
Cameron Klym: The bad old days of Avlis.
Seka: Haven't seen him in ages. So you know him from real life?
Cameron Klym: Think he last was on Avlis in 2006, and I do know him from RL. Actually saw him for a day in January just past.
Seka: Tell him to get his ass back in game!
Cameron Klym: I have more than once.
Seka: Those were interesting times, weren’t they? The whole community was split between the characters that hung out at the Rock and the ones that gathered in front of Elf Gate. And they were vastly different groups that didn’t seem to mix much. What are your best (or worst) memories from that time?
Cameron Klym: Well… when I started off on Avlis, the only servers were the Mikona one and then a little while later the Wilds went online ( though was empty, as in no NPCs ) … and then after that Elysia went active... and when that happened was a lot of players went there.
Cameron Klym: The days from 2002 to 2005 were all pretty much my best memories of playing here. I would end up with a big list if I went into any details so I will spare everyone. Those days had a different feel to them. Maybe it’s just me but I think that before any of the expansions came to be and before any real effects felt from those said expansions on Avlis, things were different then now and afterwards. Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with Avlis after 2005, but just seemed to me to be the start of another era, and has a different feel then back when Tor and I first started out, is all I am trying to say. But it’s like anything you take from your memories, that maybe they are better in your remembrance then how they actually were.
Cameron Klym: And as for my worst memories… well… will not go into that as it involved… people on both sides of the curtain acting... silly, I will just say and leave it at that.
Seka: Oh, you can tell me! Here, just whisper it in my ear. Give me a hint.
Cameron Klym: To tell you the truth… all my years on Avlis have been pretty fun… but also there have been a few occasions where certain things happened which made me wonder if I should still play on Avlis.
Seka: Really? There were times you doubted you'd keep playing?
Cameron Klym: Yes.
Seka: That's sad to hear. Conflicts with other players?
Cameron Klym: Not players.
Seka: Team, then.
Cameron Klym: Yes.
Seka: What happened?
Cameron Klym: Ok, for example… Tor was put into an IG situation where he could only respond one way and then when he did so, I had the DM in question saying that I was a stupid player and that if he did not have to go he would loot Tor's gear as a suitable punishment for being a stupid and idiotic player.
Seka: Ouch. And you were just responding in a way that you thought was in-character?
Cameron Klym: I was. The DM told me that the correct response would have been for Tor to turn tail and run away .... which I responded to him by saying.. must be nice to know more about how to RP a character then the said character’s player.
Cameron Klym: Since we are on this topic...
Seka: Go on.
Cameron Klym: I have had more than my share of not all that good of interaction with different team members… and all i have ever done on Avlis was just to RP Tor as Tor and just try to have fun and try to make it fun for other players. So I was surprised by how things happened, but I guess that is like anything like that… maybe some people let being a team member get the better of them.
Seka: It can happen to some people. They have their hang-ups, and then you give them a little power, and ... kaboom.
Cameron Klym: Like that old saying, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.... but I think you know all about that as seeing how your PC, Seka, is a Valokian from the bad old days
Seka: *laughs* I am absolutely corrupted, no doubt.
Cameron Klym: Yeah… but we are all just people… and we all have our own faults, but also our own strengths too.
Seka: I take it you don't have any problems with the current team, because you seem pretty well loved by all these days.
Cameron Klym: Call me silly, but I never knew that, so goes to show you how little one sees at times.
Seka: Oh, come on, don't be coy! You know Tor's well-loved. You are, in fact, roleplayer of the year 2105, according to your forum title. I hope you live long enough to reach 2105 and enjoy it.
Cameron Klym: Well... maybe it’s because of all the RL stuff that has happened through the years... especially in the last two.... I knew some players liked Tor and I… but I thought that most others just put up with us… as it seemed to me from my perspective that maybe everyone thought that maybe Tor had been around long enough… if you get what I mean. But at times, even in RL, one has to hit me over the head with a blunt object to get me to clue into things. I have never had any problems by the team overall… just a few at various times through the years, and I think the current team is really great.
Seka: I think it's a really solid bunch of DMs. And the personality clashes seem to be fewer than in years past.
Cameron Klym: It is a great team, and as far as personality clashes go… think it does not help when you are never in actual physical presence of people.
Seka: Speaking of the last few years: I know you've had some rough times in real life. Is it a relief to log in when you’re going through hardships like that? How would you have coped without a community like the one at Avlis?
Seka: *assistants run up to freshen her hair and makeup while the camera is on Tor*
Cameron Klym: My RL has not been all that fun the last few years, but at least most of that is behind me and I am still alive, so those are good things at least. Avlis and its community has helped me to get through things just be being there and lending an ear, so to speak. The sad part about my RL is that Avlis is basically my only social interaction that I get.
Seka: I think it's a large part of many players' social lives at this point. And yes, perhaps the only part. Whether that's weird or not, I'm not sure. Sometimes the people around you in real life aren't as similar to you as the people in a virtual game.
Cameron Klym: And a part of RL is that one’s friends that one used to hang out with all get lives and move onwards from there.
Seka: Right. Family obligations, kids, stuff.
Cameron Klym: Right. Jobs, all those sorts of things. I still have people that I call friends in the same city as I am in, but they stopped wanting to do anything years and years ago… so what can you do about that, unless you like beating your head against a brick wall.
Seka: Don't do that.
Cameron Klym: I used to but gave up after a while… like I said before… sometimes it takes me a while to clue into the obvious. But I think that is due to my stubborn nature.
Seka: So I know that part of your real life difficulties had to do with a divorce. I won't inquire about that, and you probably wouldn't want to talk about it anyway. What does interest me, though, is that Tor got married in game about the same time this was going on, right?
Cameron Klym: That was before it all came to a head... so I am not sure what you are asking.
Cameron Klym: *waits for a clueless close-up*
Seka: I guess I was interested to know if real life in some way intruded on game life. They can overlap, whether we like it or not. I know that sometimes things may not work out for me in real life, and they kind of ... bubble up in game, taking a different form, or maybe with a different outcome.
Cameron Klym: Ah… ok, got it. Yes, at times it is hard to not have RL events intrude on IG goings on with one’s character. But what was happening in my RL had nothing to do with Tor getting married IG… which I presume you mean the one from late 2013… the last time Tor was married.
Seka: Yes, the last time. I wasn't sure if real life was coinciding with that or not.
Cameron Klym: Not really at that time. But I do know that RL events after that part of IG happenings did affect my playing Tor.
Seka: Oh yeah? How did it affect your playing Tor?
Cameron Klym: I think it just made Tor become more, Hardcore Tor, I guess you could say. As when PCs said certain things it just made Tor dig in his heels more and be more stubborn and want to cleave people.
Seka: A more intense Tor. I didn’t think that was possible.
Cameron Klym: Oh, yes, it is possible to have a more intense Tor then the one most know.
Seka: Really? There are extremes we haven't seen yet?
Cameron Klym: I think so.
Seka: Good grief. Well I hope we get to see this! Any more intense, though, and he may just explode or something.
Cameron Klym: Well.. he just might explode... and do not think that would be a good thing. Tor is like playing two characters at once. Through the years I have actually had to play Tor as a bit more laid back then how he used to be… just due to the fact that I did not think others would be having all that much fun around Tor. It’s easy to rigidly play how your PC is but that route can lead to making others unhappy and we are all here to have fun. It’s important with an online RP game especially to be able to be a bit flexible with one’s character. Which goes back to Tor being like playing two characters.
Seka: So that's really interesting - you actually hold back something to make sure everyone's having fun. I'm often in the middle of that dilemma: do i play this character all out, as I think it should be played, without regard for others? Or keep in mind that I'm just an actor in a play?
Cameron Klym: Well, Back when I was first playing Tor, I was playing him pretty fullbore and then after a while I noticed that maybe, at times that my doing so was maybe not making it much fun for other PCs, so I always try to play Tor with that in mind. Tor has his good half… the honourable Tyeduan warrior… and he also has his chaotic side....the side that is ruled by his Wod.
Seka: I think it's great that you're considerate of everyone's enjoyment, though. It's not just about you.
Cameron Klym: All I can say is that I try to make it fun for others. But we all are just imperfect humans.
Seka: I've seen some characters - especially evil ones - go way too far. You get the feeling the player's enjoying it just a bit too much. So I have to know: where did Wod come from? Is that Avlis canon, or just your invention?
Cameron Klym: That’s an old Germanic/Scandinavian word for… what people IG would call Fury.
Seka: Interesting, I didn’t know that. So you live in Canada, right? I always pictured you in a log cabin at the base of a snowy mountain. Pile of firewood out back, tree stump with an axe in it. Am I even close? Please don't tell me you're in some shitty apartment somewhere and ruin my dream.
Cameron Klym: I do live up in Canada… Western Canada… and not anymore… they built a resort on the mountain and I was relocated to a nearby city.
Seka: You grew up in the area?
Cameron Klym: No.
Seka: Where are you from originally?
Cameron Klym: My dad was in the Canadian Armed Forces and so he was transferred around Canada a lot so I basically grew up all over Canada.
Seka: Army brat, eh?
Cameron Klym: Guess so. I was born in Edmonton, Alberta... but I have been in every province and territory of Canada at least once.
Seka: Wow. You were in the army too, right? You’ve mentioned that to me before. Is Tor drawn from any of those experiences?
Cameron Klym: I was in the Army. Tor is more from my love of history… been reading all sorts of history since I was old enough to read and was looking at the pictures before that. So I ended up knowing a lot about history in general.
Seka: I've been amazed by how much you know about this stuff.
Cameron Klym: It’s safe to say that I have probably forgotten more about history than most people knew.
Seka: *laughs* You get a bard level for that.
Cameron Klym: Yay! I think.
Seka: Tell me: how are you, the player, most similar and dissimilar to Tor? I'm particularly interested in how you might be different. Or is there no difference?
Cameron Klym: Of course there are differences.
Seka: Well I know you don't often chop people up with an axe. Right...?
Cameron Klym: I think I am more laid back and easygoing than Tor is... generally.
Seka: It's that 'generally' that makes me go Hmm.
Cameron Klym: I do have a… temper in RL one could say. But I have worked on that since my teenage years. So it usually takes while before that gets triggered.
Seka: So it was something that you might have felt like years ago, but have learned to manage.
Cameron Klym: Something like that. But I have noticed that in the last few years that both my stubbornness and temper have … become more so than in any time before, but I am working on trying to find my happy go lucky self again.
Seka: Tell me one thing about Cameron Klym that no one would ever expect to be true.
Cameron Klym: I am an ...and you probably guessed it already....maybe....but I am an ALIEN!! Ok...but seriously.....one thing.....Hmmmm.
Seka: *looks to the studio audience, who are all rapt with attention*
Cameron Klym: I do not drink, nor have I ever done any other type of drugs and I do not swear in RL, how’s that?
Seka: That's pretty good. And rather amazing, because I do all that stuff.
Cameron Klym: And that’s okay. Plus I have what most think are outdated values.... but what can I say?
Seka: Values are important! Sort of. Which reminds me: Trump, Sanders, Clinton, or I’m Canadian And Don’t Give a Shit?
Cameron Klym: Well..... would be funny to see Trump get in, just saying.
Seka: I was thinking that the other day. He scares the hell out of me, but it WOULD be entertaining, at least. *laughs*
Cameron Klym: Seeing how he is a businessman he might run the US of A government better then one might think. I think all that stuff he says was just to get his ratings up and get everyone talking about him... like that old saying goes.... no such thing as bad PR.
Seka: Yes, he's a businessman, but so is our ex-mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, who is going to come to the rescue!
Cameron Klym: Ok if you say so… do not think I know that name.
Seka: Yeah, that's the problem - most don't. But he's got billions, far more than Trump, and actually earned his money instead of inheriting it.
Cameron Klym: Ahh.
Seka: And he might enter the race as an Independent. We'll see! (Ed. Note: at press time, this now seems highly unlikely.) Okay, just a few more questions and then I'll let you get back to Tor's rock.
Cameron Klym: Ok… and funny that you should say that ....
Seka: Why's that?
Cameron Klym: As the Rock just outside the gates to Mikona were at one time many years ago… were Tor’s place to stand.
Seka: What is it with you and rocks? *laughs*
Cameron Klym: Not sure. Maybe so it’s easier to replace any that might fall out an ear?
Cameron Klym: *laughs*
Seka: Oh! Before I forget. One thing I wanted to ask about, back when we were discussing the role of the Avlis community in your life. If I’m recalling this correctly, your computer stopped working once and someone - I think it might have been Hamlet and Aramithran - sent you a replacement? That was amazingly kind of them. Tell me about that.
Cameron Klym: Oh...right. Now I feel bad that I did not bring all that up on my own.
Seka: Don't worry about it. I just thought: wow. That was really cool of them.
Cameron Klym: My good old computer that I had since 2000 finally died in a horrific explosion of the harddrive back in late March of 2014. And it was really kool and awesome of them. So… I was able to get on once in a blue moon by asking my brother all the time to let me use his computer... so was able to get IG twice I think in May of 2014… and then at the end of May things went downhill and all that divorce stuff happened and I went to go stay with my sister, and while I was there Hamlet and Aramithran put together a computer and sent it to me, which I received in mid August of 2014.
Seka: Is that the same one you use now?
Cameron Klym: I would like to say yes.... but the sad part of this nice happy tale was that on the 03rd of October in the year of our Lord, 2014.....that computers hard drive stopped working .....all I got that day when I turned the computer on was a spinning bands of colours on my screen.
Seka: Oh no! May it rest in peace.
Cameron Klym: Yeah, not sure what happened. But, talk about making one feel humbled at their generosity and just caring in general.
Seka: Really, what an incredibly nice thing that they did for you. I'm actually starting to tear up, excuse me *dries eyes*
Cameron Klym: I still have it.... and one day will get a new motherboard for it as the computer place I took it to said that the motherboard was not working. It was and totally unexpected and make me feel both .... humbled and grateful but also a bit strange.
Seka: How did it make you feel strange?
Cameron Klym: I just never had anyone do anything like that for me before… especially people I never even met in RL. Hard to explain… sorry to say.
Seka: No, I get that.
Cameron Klym: So… after that computer stopped working.... I get a PM from Zerub’s player and in it he says that he is going to send me a computer and he did… which I received in mid January of 2015… and that’s the one I still use. So once again the Avlis community came through for me and as I have said before it is a pretty humbling experience and one that I am grateful for.
Seka: Wow. I didn’t know that part of the story. So you got another one from another player.
Cameron Klym: Yes from Zerub's player.
Seka: *raises a glass to the Avlis community*
Cameron Klym: *does the same*
Cameron Klym: So a great big thank you goes out to Hamlet, Aramithran and Zerub from me for all the time money and effort you all spent just to try to get me back IG *gives them all a great big HUG ( maybe Hamlet a little more so than the other two...maybe)*
Seka: I'm sure they won't mind being hugged a little less than Hamlet.
Cameron Klym: Hopefully.
Seka: Okay: random question time! *band of midgets comes out playing a silly song*
Cameron Klym: *might be thinking: Just like Seka to exploit a bunch of poor Little Hin*
Seka: Could you ever play a female PC?
Cameron Klym: Could I ever play a female PC...??
Seka: Let me check the transcript.... *reviews* Yep! That's what I asked!
Cameron Klym: Let me think on that a moment.
Cameron Klym: Hmmmmmm.
Cameron Klym: No.
Seka: *laughs* Really? Why not?
Cameron Klym: I do not think that I am ~that~ good of a RPer to be able to pull that one off. And I do not know how you all manage it.
Seka: Ah, I don't believe that! I'm holding out hope.
Cameron Klym: You are?
Seka: Well, not really. *laughs*
Cameron Klym: *laughs*
Seka: Who impresses you with their roleplaying? Is there anyone who just consistently knocks you out? I am going to disqualify myself because I would certainly be first. Who’s second to me?
Cameron Klym: *might be thinking: Seems there really are RL Valokians*
Cameron Klym: Well.... I would firstly like to say that I think everyone here on Avlis are all great RPers… I mean that is why I am still here after all this time.... that and well.... I have no RL to speak of… but that’s besides the point. Everyone is just great. And as for who is second to you… well… Hmmm.
Cameron Klym: I hate to name names as if I miss one then it will make someone feel sad. But Ayslynne is pretty great.
Seka: Sure, absolutely she is.
Cameron Klym: A lot of history between her and Tor. But there are a lot of characters that their players do such a great job with, would be a long list if I tried to list names off.
Seka: I'm trying to imagine Barbarian mating rituals and my mind is just exploding right now.
Cameron Klym: Well...
Seka: No. Don't tell me! I don't want that image.
Cameron Klym: *laughs*
Seka: Speaking of which… Tor’s .. rather gotten around, hasn’t he? Honest, now: how many women has Tor bedded in game?
Cameron Klym: You mean besides Seka?
Seka: Yes, besides - WAIT A SECOND!!!!!!!!!! LISTEN, BUSTER, I'M RUNNING THE SHOW HERE! *calls the production manager over and asks to have that edited out* *coughs and mumbles that Evershield can never ever know this* Okay, this topic is done! Next question: Pirates, or ninjas?
Cameron Klym: You meant which which would I pick between those two?
Seka: I mean: which is more badass? Pirates, or ninjas?
Cameron Klym: Well seeing how the word "Ninja" did not appear until 1913 if I remember correctly - was in the Book "Sarutobi Sasuke” - as before that all actual historical accounts speak of Shinobi-mono... just going by what I remember of Japanese history at the moment...
Seka: *smiles* Tor? PIRATES, or NINJAS?!?! NOT A HISTORICAL TREATISE!
Cameron Klym: Ok, I might be babbling off topic here.
Cameron Klym: Right… sorry about that Chief. Pirates or Ninjas … Hmmm. Probably have to go with.... VIKINGS.
Seka: Okay, Vikings are so damn cool that I'm gonna accept that answer.
Cameron Klym: Well they were called pirates.
Cameron Klym: Thanks. *smiles*
Seka: What’s Tor’s most cherished possession? How’d he get it? Does it have a story behind it?
Cameron Klym: I would hav to go with Tor's Stormaxe, seeing how it’s been with him since the summer of 2004, though his loinfur and Ice Bear head is a very close second. As for a story … do you mean as in how did Tor get his axe IG or how he got it OOCly?
Seka: In game. But if you want to mention a DM, or an OOC story related to it, go ahead!
Cameron Klym: Well… really was no IG event or happening that got Tor his Stormaxe.... I hate to say.
Seka: Really? How'd it come to be?
Cameron Klym: One day a DM just gave it to Tor and I and said that Tor had earned it so here you go.
Seka: A Lifetime Achievement Award. Nice.
Cameron Klym: Do not get me wrong, it was nice to get something like that and I am grateful that happened… But also at the same time was a little bit of a bummer as Tor had heard of (and helped some) other PCs have great adventures to get their own weapons IG.... if you follow me.
Seka: I do. Naturally, you would've loved to have received it as the capstone to a great adventure.
Cameron Klym: That would have been nice. But like I said before, at least Tor got a nice spiffy weapon, so am grateful for that.
Seka: Of course, and I'm sure the DM knows you are. Next question: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?
Cameron Klym: One Horse-sized Duck as it would look more heroic. Maybe. Until said duck quacks me to death.
Seka: *laughs* Last question: how’d you get the nickname Twinkles*? I just can’t figure out why everyone calls you that!
Cameron Klym: The way I got that nickname was due to the fact that when I go out into the bright shiny daylight, I, as you may have already deduced, twinkle. Yes, in RL I am really a… VAMPYRE!!
Seka: Well, that concludes our interview! I want to thank you for being such a gracious guest, Cameron, and for putting up with all my idiotic questions.
Cameron Klym: Was both my pleasure and honour to do so… but maybe not so much in regards to your idiotic questions.... maybe.
* This was in fact a complete fabrication on the part of the interviewer, which Cameron responded to without batting an eye.