I’ve recently finished a long move out of my home state of Ohio. During the many long days of packing and unpacking, I watched a lot of netflix in the background, and being a geek I tended to watch lots of geeky tv series and movies. I realized a pretty common trope in a lot of fantasy, sci-fi, and supernatural shows is one of the main characters getting mind controlled – as in, really common. I was a little amazed by the amount it got used and how many shows made use of it. There are rules for this kind of control in many games as well. With a missed roll the PCs can suddenly come under control of an NPC who is under control of the Game Master, just like in this clip from Gamers 2.
The question that rises in my mind is whether it is fair or not.
Should any of the players characters be put under control of the game master because of mind control or magical effects? Sure, there are often rules to prevent abuse and saving throws and resistances, but does it strip a player of too much control, even if it is fair mechanically? That is exactly the concept being played out in many of the stories that use mind control and often the character being controlled gets to heroically fight it off, but players resist plot elements that feel like losing or seem to send them backwards. Ever tried to put a PC group in jail for the story elements of it? While I think elements like this that provide an internal challenge to defeat can be incredibly fun and fulfilling, I realize it requires the right balance of group, play style, and fairness. I wonder if it is worth it to use things like this and I wonder if players find these elements as fun.
So, what do you think? Are mind control spells fair game? Would it be fair for one PC under the GMs control to eliminate another PC? Should these kinds of things be cleared with the players first?