Then don't play on Normal?
Normal is the default difficulty by definition. Most people are going to play on the default difficulty. Poor balance on the default difficulty is bad. Are you really completely incapable of understanding that poor balance is a bad thing?
Any idea how to fix it without blocking the player's progress or making the mechanics mostly irritating (and really not limiting)? The system would also have to be understandable to the player.
Practically, the only idea that could effectively limit the rest are time limits, but if larian introduced it, players would pull out forks and torches (this will not pass in such a large game).
We are discussing ideas and still have not been able to find a reasonable compromise.
I do have an idea which would try to achieve both the goals of preventing long rest spam and avoid blocking the player's progress. It's not perfect, but it's at least something brought to the table.
- A Fatigue meter is in the game, which increases based on distance traveled out of combat, and healing received from all sources except short (and long) rests.
- Distance traveled is defined as the number of steps or meters moved by any party member, divided by 4. This accounts for times when the whole party travels together, or if someone goes off on their own scouting or sneaking and moves around a lot while everyone else stands still.
- Movement via Fast Travel would probably not generate as much Fatigue as walking there directly, because that could lead to it accumulating faster than intended if the player is just doing questing or shopping. Perhaps only 1/3 to 1/2 of the fatigue you'd get by forgoing Fast Travel and walking there directly.
- The distance is reset to 0 after a long rest.
- Healing received is fairly self-explanatory, it accounts for recovery from spells, potions, and food (if healing by food is kept). Only actual recovery of HP counts - any healing which overflows your maximum does not count towards Fatigue.
- You can now have up to 3 Short Rests before a Long Rest.
- Healing from Short Rests does not increase Fatigue - or, at least, not by a lot - because the intent is to promote better balance between short and long rests. Also, if Short Rests increased Fatigue, you could have the situation of taking a Short rest to recover, but that pushes you to a point close to exhaustion and you'd need to take a long rest immediately after the short one, and that seems silly.
- Once your Fatigue has passed a certain point, say, 67% of full of the first Exhaustion point on Normal difficulty, you can then take a Long Rest.
- If you wish to Long Rest, but do not want to fight, you can continue to move around until crossing the 67% Fatigue threshold.
- The threshold could possibly be lower or higher based in difficulty level.
- If the fatigue reaches 100%, the entire party receives a point of Exhaustion.
- If the threshold is crossed in combat, the Exhaustion penalty will not apply until combat is finished.
- You can continue to play, your Fatigue Meter will continue to increase and eventually you'll reach additional points of Exhaustion.
- The 67% threshold is only for when you have 0 points of Exhaustion. If you have one or more Exhaustion points, you can Long Rest freely.
- Once you reach 5 points of Exhaustion, you are forced into a long rest before proceeding. If you are still in combat or conversation, those will be allowed to conclude before you are forced to camp.
- Taking a long rest will remove all points of Exhaustion and reset Fatigue to zero. (This is more forgiving than the tabletop rule for smoother gameplay.)
The idea is that you can't get blocked without being able to long rest - like you can be in Solasta from running out of rations. If nothing else, you'll always be able to walk around to reach the 67% threshold. This will however, force you into more shrewd management of resources, since you will be barred from long rests until you've passed 67% fatigue. If a player wants to exploit this by walking around after every combat and then taking a long rest, they're only sabotaging their own fun with tedium.