Each month, we interview a commanding officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles, and what’s been happening under their command
This month, we’re interviewing the Commanding Officer of the starship USS Ronin, Commander Karrod Niac, a male joined Trill..
DeVeau: You’ve told us a little about yourself in previous interviews, and I was wondering if you would share what it’s like to live on an Island in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s a peaceful place that’s made all the more so by the striking contrast from where I lived before – in Brooklyn, NY. Here we’ve got a bit of space and some trees and as I find the rain relaxing, wonderful weather. It’s a beautiful little community and I’m lucky to have found it.
You were actually interviewed more recently back in March of 2023, and were, at the time, First Officer of the USS Arrow. Now you’re commanding officer of the USS Ronin. Would you share a bit about the road you traveled to get to CO?
Like the man said, it’s been a long road…a-getting from a there to here. It’s been a long time…but my time is finally here! I can see my dream come alive at last….
Sorry sorry, what were you asking? Oh right.
I joined 118 in 2018 so it has taken me about five years total to go from precocious little Ensign to several possibly unprintable adjectives to describe my Commander-hood. In that time I’ve had two primary characters – first Geoffrey Teller, who I took from Ensign to Commander in one straight run and then, after a much needed leave of absence to recharge the old batteries, Karrod Niac – everyone’s favorite beard with legs. I’ve served under six different CO’s across five ships and one base (including fleetwide arcs) and in that time I’ve met and written with some of the most gifted, creative and hilarious people in the fleet. I’ve seen radically different styles and approaches to all levels of our game and the one thing that’s been consistent throughout is the deep and abiding love everyone in our community has for Trek. It has been an incredible experience and one I wouldn’t have believed possible if you had told me about it five years ago.
What inspired you to work toward the role of Commanding Officer?
Originally it was the furthest thing from my mind – my first character Teller was never happier than when he was a Chief Engineer and, had you asked me originally, that was as far as I ever really wanted to climb. Over time, as I got to know this community better and I understood more about the work involved in creating an environment where stories like ours could grow and thrive I started thinking bigger. I wanted to make a positive contribution to a community that had given me such an incredible creative and social outlet and, when the opportunity to move into a First Officer role originally presented itself, I took it. I can’t say there haven’t been some bumps along the road to get here but a lot of those experiences, good and bad, shaped the kind of commanding officer I want to be – both IC and OOC.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the absolutely incredible work of the CO’s I’ve had over the years; my first CO, then Captain Rosharana Rahman who is ultimately to blame for all of this, then Flt. Cpt. Aron Kells aboard the Thor, who showed me how to take a ship and turn it into a home, then Commodore Kaliana Nicholotti (Or Catamarana Nickleplating, if you ask Doctor Gott) who welcomed me to her ship with an untried character in a difficult role when I was getting my feet back under me after a leave of absence…and finally Captain Randal Shayne, who gave me the final push I needed towards that big centered chair. They all have my sincerest thanks and/or apologies, depending on which one they want more.
What made you decide to choose the USS Ronin as your launch ship?
Several factors but probably none stronger than a conversation I had with another Veritas alum and long term friend, Captain Addison MacKenzie. We brainstormed for a while about what kind of ship felt ‘right’ for Karrod’s character – she’d gotten to know him during their time together on the Excalibur when Addison was serving as the ships XO – and after looking through the ships in our inactive roster the Akira class really spoke to us. It also gave us an opportunity to play with a few tropes – the ‘old warhorse’ of a ship pushed back into service that’s also slightly falling apart for one – that the crew has really engaged with right away.
What has been the hardest part of transitioning to your new role?
Phew – it’s a difficult question because there are probably about ten things that are in contention for ‘hardest part’ at any given time; there’s the actual behind the scenes work of setting up a new ship, the challenge of building a net-new crew of volunteers from across the fleet as opposed to inheriting an established crew, the complexity of building out a new staffing team and establishing all the OOC tools you need to maintain and manage the work we do to support our members.
For me though the hardest part is probably the apprehension I’ve felt as all of this was coming together. Even with all the work and effort put in there’s never a guarantee that things will work right – that writers will gel together well, that a CO’s style is going to resonate with a crew, that the setting will be engaging and interesting for the whole crew and not just the people who thought it up. Fortunately the Ronin’s first mission and our current shore leave have gone off splendidly and from Ensign on up the crew is having a fantastic time turning the Ronnie into a home.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a Commanding Officer?
For me, it’s the little things – the jokes that develop among writers, the vibrancy they bring to the ship through ideas I never would’ve even imagined, the joy of scenes that go in wildly unexpected but still strangely perfect directions. Oh and of course the perks – executive washroom access at Starfleet Command, the good replicator codes, latinum inlaid beard comb, etc etc etc.
What goals do you have for the next year?
Aside from pan-galactic conquest you mean? The Ronin’s first mission set up our meta-antagonist for the ships first season, ‘The Lattice Alliance.’ This collection of Tholians and Sheliak have declared their intention to annex most of the territory that makes up the Alpha Isles, a campaign region that we share with the very gracious Captain Shayne of the Arrow. Over the next year the Ronin is going to have this hanging over our collective heads as we get to know one another better, plus I’m sure I’ll find us a few things to do that’ll leave the whole crew with
deep scars fond memories for years to come!
Thanks for your time, Commander Niac!
You can read more about Commander Karrod Niac on the wiki.