We play a good, long session of Felltower every few weeks. But it does seem like that soon enough it's like 6-7 pm, there is only a little loot on the table, and the players are desperate to make loot. So they push into new areas, start large fights, explore dangerous traps, etc.
Then we play until 9 pm or so. This sucks for me less than it used to - Monday is now an afternoon-and-night day, not a pre-dawn rise like it had been. But we have players who live in different states, players who work on Monday morning (most of them), and even a young kid who games.
One solution is to get out of the gate faster - finish up the "town" portion of the session and get into the dungeon quicker. Here is what we're doing:
- you have to spend points ahead of time, by email. I'm sure I'll still allow people to spend them in person, if they forgot or get asked to pull a PC out of the reserves and run it. But if most people do their points ahead of time, that cuts out some time we need to spend on that.
- someone proposed a price list of common spellstones, potions, scrolls, etc. to avoid lookup times. I don't know if anyone made one or not.
- no speculative "is this available and how much is it?" rolls. If you're making a roll to see if something is available, we're assuming you've been spending time shopping for it and offered to buy one. In other words, you can't roll to see if something is available, then price it out, then decide if you want it. This should cut down on time spent discussing options based on consumables (usually potions and scrolls) that the PCs might not be able or willing to afford.
- come ready to roll. Take care of your equipment purchases quickly and then we can start.
We're not going to do a hard timer or anything (although we'll set an alarm that says, basically, it's late so don't do anything big.) But we will try to get rolling in the dungeon earlier.
And hopefully "get loot" will be prioritized over "wander around figuring things about and hope some loot appears." Leaving "loot!" until later has made for some tough slogs at the end as the players try to squeeze some out to justify a lot of tramping around.
We'll see how this goes.