Certainty / Potentiality and risk taking

According to the dictionary, a character with certainty element wants to be sure in what he is doing, and does not take risks. Potentiality is for risk taking, and the highest potential of all possibilities.

In the archetypal characters, the protagonist is assigned certainty. This seems to be counter intuitive. The protagonist moves the story, and faces the storymind’s problem head on. He is the one who will do what others will not, or inspire others to follow his plan. He is proactive. So why is he not a risk taker?

Looking at the chess set for characters and seeing certainty in his methodology / decision, I had rationalized that the protagonist is certain (confident) about his assessments. But then the protagonist is looking for certainty in his approach, he does not want to take a risk.

What does this mean here? I am trying to reconcile this by picturing the protagonist as being responsible about the consequences his actions have on others, and so he wants to be certain of what he is doing. He is the kind of protagonist who will not allow others to fight in battles with grave consequences. He is the kind of protagonist who will risk his life, because in absence of finding a safe plan for his friends, runs in the battle because he knows that the worst that can happen is his death, and he is certain that it is an acceptable outcome. Is this what Dramatica is hinting at?

Likewise, potentiality points towards a visionary / ambitious person. So, is the antagonist a visionary person who takes risks, or is he a delusional, ambitious person who is aiming for world domination / 100% market capture and does not think of anything in between? Put differently, the risk taking is fueled by a vice rather than a virtue. Is that a fair summation?

I wonder if the risk-taking aspect of the definitions is less useful here. (I find those Dictionary definitions are often good examples, but not the end all and be all of the element.) It works better to consider the character elements in relation to the Goal.

For the Protagonist I think it’s simply that he is certain that pursuing the Goal is the correct course. Given that, he will take whatever risks are deemed necessary. (Note some Protagonists may be complex and not have the Certainty element.)

I’m not sure about the Antagonist. Maybe it’s that they are driven by, and to demonstrate, the negative potential of the Goal – its potential for harm if it comes to pass.

Summed up in one sentence: Don’t use Archetypal Characters when writing your story.

They work OK when just looking at the Motivation quad (Pursuit, Consider, etc.) but fall apart when you look at the others. Also, take note of Melanie’s “Lost Theory Book” for alternate Archetypes.


Alright, sounds like a good rule of thumb.

Certainty is the Methodology for a Motivation of Consider. If a character is driven by the weighing of pros and cons, it will be in service of/serviced by a conclusion that something is true.

The description of a Certainty character in the dictionary reads like a character that represents only that element and nothing else. But a Protagonist has other elements. And as the book says, a Protagonist motivated to pursue something will employ a methodology of proaction. A proactive protagonist might take risks up until the point at which they need to be certain about something.


I think that’s a very good rule of thumb. A character has multiple elements, and all of them exert their influence in a situation. That is something I did not have in mind while focusing on the individual elements.

Reading all the elements together and having a good intuition of them in a player is a really nice foundation for imagination of the characters.