I always make super sure my players have full agency, but the one time I broke it, my player had a great time in all subsequent campaigns. I make it a point to never describe to players how THEIR character feels, never inflict permanent curses like lycanthropy or undeath on a PC, and never change THEIR image, period. But in one of my campaigns, one of my players did a big dumb, and I had to make him choose losing an arm over dying. I thought I had broken a DM rule and ruined his experience, but to my surprise, this permanent loss of an arm not only created the most interesting character, but made the most engaging player. His character, who was absorbed by her own beauty, begin a manic sidequest to restore her arm, went through all 5 stages of grief except for acceptance, then went comically insane for right arms. She grew an erratic jealously for all the right-arm-priveleged, for friends and foes alike. She collaborated with
coerced the artificer player to use his skills to tinker a mechanic arm. The artificer in turn was able to pull a fast one on her and rigged her own arm with his own kill-switches/nerfs. Strangely, losing an arm, an aesthetic decision not made by the player, made this character so much more dynamic and synergizable. The campaign's been done for over a year now, but every so often he fondly regards this character, something I rarely experience so strongly from other players.
This is what I want most, I want to make my table memorable for my players and help them create memorable heroes, and a character's change-over-time is one of the most engaging thing a person can experience. Just reference any successful story ever created, and it usually involves character development through fire. However, one of the most important rules of DND is that we DMs should let people sculpt THEIR own characters and shape THEIR own stories. "It's not my job to solve your problems, it's my job to solve your solutions." -Matt Colville. I don't want to overstep my boundaries and start snipping off body parts from my PC's for development, but a story without bite can be boring.
I'm deathly afraid to cross a line, but I can't just ignore the results of playing on it. Where's the line?
Edit: Grammar and Basic Sentences
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