Award winner – Karrod Niac, USS Arrow/USS Ronin (Strange Medallion)

Award winner – Karrod Niac, USS Arrow/USS Ronin (Strange Medallion)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our 2023 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters as well as their out of character contributions and achievements.

This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Commander Karrod Niac playing a Trill Male who, at the time of the awards, was a First Officer assigned to the USS Arrow. He won the Strange Medallion: “Awarded to First Officers in the fleet who are consistently dependable, perform above the call of duty in their position, and excel not only in simming, but also in their dedicated Out of Character activities.”

Nilsen: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from? Any hobbies?

Niac: I live on Bainbridge Island, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.  Or, as some people call it, the Upper Left.  It’s a beautiful spot and my wife & I moved here shortly before my son was born about six years ago.  As far as hobbies go, aside from 118 I’m an avid tabletop and PC gamer, I love reading scifi and fantasy in many forms and when I’m looking to frustrate myself and spend a lot of money doing it, I focus on 3d printing!  

What makes a good first officer, both in character and out of character? 

So there’s a line in DS9 that I think perfectly frames the responsibilities of an XO – ‘I serve the Captain but I stand for the crew.’  Your role as a first officer, both IC and OOC, is to not only implement the CO’s will but to do that in a way that supports and affirms the crew.  You’re responsible for helping to shape the plot and the scenes, to build out the plot that your ship is running for a given mission but you also have to watch the crews engagement closely to make sure folks are actually connecting with the mission (or shoreleave) and haven’t been left behind or under-utilized in their scenes.  Ideally an XO is doing a lot of the micromanagement while the CO focuses on the overall strategic management, both IC and behind the scenes with OOC guidance and mentorship.  

What guidance would you give to someone who is maybe looking to rise to first officer one day?

Staff roles like XO and CO are, in my eyes, less about that particular character and more about what you intend to give back to the community – both on your ship and 118 as a whole.  You’re a leader that people look to as an example of both how to sim and how to engage with others IC and OOC, something that’s especially critical for new Ensign’s and junior officers.  If you’re looking to take those big steps up the ladder and maybe even thinking about having a Big Chair of your own some day, think about how your story, your plotlines, your sims and your interactions support the other people on your ship.  Do they help other people shine?  Do you help lift other characters or plotlines up and keep the momentum in a scene, even when it doesn’t explicitly make your character the ‘hero?’  Start asking yourself those kinds of questions and you’re on your way to being a great leader.  

Since receiving the award, you’ve gone on to your own command, the USS Ronin. Many congratulations to you. Tell me about that transition to your own command. What has that experience been like?

Firstly, thank you – achieving command around here was never my original goal but as time went on and I got more invested in the community it felt more and more ‘right.’  The transition itself was a wonderful kind of chaos, especially since the Ronin’s crew was scratch built from volunteers around the fleet – most of whom I’d never written with before.  I was astonishingly fortunate – right away the chemistry between me and my XO was excellent and he was critical to getting the ship launched.  Our senior staff quickly became an unit who tackled challenges collectively and has continued to impress mission after mission with their thoughtfulness, their care in crafting their stories and supporting our junior officers and the incredible amount of time they pour into OOC work, like our wiki, our Discord ‘question of the week’ thread or any of a hundred other things that keep our ship flying.  I am constantly in awe of them and know the Ronin wouldn’t be anything without their efforts and their constant support.  

What’s next for Captain Niac and the USS Ronin? Any sneak previews?  

Well as you may have heard the Fleet’s Frontier Day festivities are going to be a blast.  While folks are turning the Sol system upside down the Ronin, along with our sister ship in the Alpha Isles the USS Khitomer, will be embarking on a joint mission – holding off an opportunistic attack on the Federations border while the bulk of Starfleet is…ahem…otherwise occupied.  It’s a plotline that’ll be adjacent to the blockbuster but we’ll be there in spirit!  

Thanks for your time, Captain Niac!

You can read more about Captain Niac on the wiki.

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