There are a number of spells and monsters in various fantasy and sci-fi RPGs that can significantly influence a PC's behavior, take control of a PC altogether, or even replace a PC without the knowledge of the rest of the group (e.g., the doppelganger from Dungeons and Dragons). The way I have usually seen this handled is for the DM to simply inform the player that they have lost agency as a character and take control of the PC. This method seems heavy-handed to me, and can easily lead to a PC getting angry or losing interest in the session. In cases like the doppelganger, where the PC would have been incapacitated at some point and replaced, the player might wonder why they never got a chance to fight back. Worse, it lets the other players know that the character has lost agency in cases where their characters might have no way of knowing that.

What are some alternative methods for using these spells and monsters in a way that keeps the player of the controlled character involved and invested in the action and does not reveal anything to the group that they should not know?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This depends on the game system. Wraith made this a core mechanic (The Shadow), where the player would lose control of their character and hand it to a designated other player. Likewise, Frenzy in Vampire and werewolf is handled by the GM taking active control. L5R has some mental drawbacks that say "the GM decides what happens in certain conditions and doesn'T even have to disclose it to you OOCly" - you don't know what you did sleepwalking. Others might be told. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 12:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Judging from the previous comment I think those who think this is system agnostic (like me) just haven't played enough types of game. Maybe pick a game you are thinking about, then you can extrapolate any answer you get yourself to whatever systems you care about. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ About "does not reveal anything to the group that they should not know" - we often underestimate people's ability to play fair and leave aside what they know as players when making decisions for their characters. I would not try to hide it from them, if only because you'll have to let the player who lost control know in some way and the others are bound to suspect something. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can one of the people who voted to close please clarify? Do you need me to specify a game system? \$\endgroup\$
    – ruffdove
    Commented Aug 25, 2022 at 14:16