DF Felltower has a time & rest (and resources) conundrum.
Getting to deeper levels takes time.
Deeper level combats are harder.
Harder combat demand more time.
Players naturally take longer to resolve combats where the risk and stakes are higher.
Therefore, the deeper in the dungeon a fight takes place, the longer the time spent getting to the fray, and then the longer the fray takes to resolve.
On top of that, the PCs have a high-FP cost combat style - they rely heavily on Great Haste, Shield, and various Resist spells to win fights.
How do we play out the inevitable?
Somehow, the PCs need to square the circle and win fights with less HP loss and less FP expenditure - especially the latter. The players need to do so at a reduced cost in time. Although extra real-world time expended may result in less HP loss and FP expenditure - grinding out a victory - spending a lot of FP means they need to stop and rest.
That means less ability to press the advantage in a fight - if the party needs to in-game rest and recover, but they can't do so without winning a series of battles to ensure they have the place to do so, and the time to resolve those battles means we can't do multiples in a session . . . then what?
It doesn't help that anything I can do to dial back the time costs of a fight has unequal perceived costs. The players don't like to go mapless - in theory they do, but then they basically act as if there is a map anyway and try to leverage all of the benefits you can eke out when combat is fully tactical. Removing combat options - no Retreat, fixed Deceptive Attack or Feint - is perceived by the players as limiting their ability to survive - and have one PC die because they couldn't do X or Y and no one will agree to go without those options again. Making the NPCs use the Mook Rule more often just means fights got easier. I'd need to add more NPCs to make the fight have the risk-weight that justifies the reward, which makes using a fight-speeding Mook Rule less useful or perhaps effectively useless.
That's really where we are "stuck:"
- Exploration takes time, and when it comes with risk the players are much slower about their exploration.
- This leads to combats starting later in a session.
- Fights are tough in the depths, so fights are longer because of size (8-10+ PCs and NPCs vs. similar sized or larger group OR small numbers of very tough foes).
- The PCs need to rest after such fights because the PCs expend a lot of recoverable resources doing them.
- It's not safe to rest in the depths, generally, and making it so pushes the PCs towards using more FP to win because it's more likely they'll get them back.
- And ideally we can end in town so the next session isn't the same delve, blocking out players who missed last session but who can come this session.
As such, the PCs can't really win a battle and then exploit the benefits unless they win a decisive victory and have tens of minutes to hang out without being bothered. Otherwise, fights are one-and-done. And if they are, there isn't any point in minimizing the cost to earn them. The 15-minute workday, basically, much like the Black Company in The White Rose, becomes the default.
I'm not really sure where this will go. Ideally, we'd use streamlined rules - heck, the PCs are powerful enough - against foes equally using streamlined rules - to resolve fights quickly. But again, the players perceive the cost of losing out on the benefits they work very hard to maximize as too high, so we don't do this (although we used to, to an extent.)
It's not clear what the answer is, except maybe we've hit the effective limit of what our approach will let us do without making some considerable changes.