I guess pets should recover/regenerate after wounded. Now the only way to heal the pet is to kill it :) And it seems that "relation" is significantly reduced in that case (I didn't study this issue thoroughly, but if feels like 2000->1500).
Another (more complex) way to heal pets is to cast some spell on them or to feed them. However, making that is harder (maybe, a menu option in "company" would be fine?). While just making them regenerate with time is better.
This is especially important to handle this in case the "company" is the villager being saved, as he/she may be badly wounded during the great escape :). Right now, it is "recommended" not to open the cage until the level has been cleared up of monsters, but it's much more fun to keep the prisoner alive in a monster infested dungeons, than to "remember" where he/she is, remember where is the portal after the way is safe, just get him/her there.
Maybe, there should be: 1) no way out of such level (Player can't simply return with stairs-up, only with a scroll of return or go down one dungeon level), 2) no way out of the second level - only through the portal. This way in order to save the villager (freed at lvl.4) the player will have to navigate him/her through lvl.5 of the dungeon to flee together. The same way player can't leave in a normal way, while in there - even alone. The idea is very "raw" because this way it'll be a great nuisance, as the player may not be "ready for lvl.5" yet, due to low character level or hunger or low on resources (e.g. torches). Forcing the player to fight his way through a heavy dungeon on the brim of survival is a bit wrong (thou this is a roguelike after all!).
hmmm, maybe "stoned/crystallized" villagers is still a better (and an easier) way to go? Just pick them up and use some item (like blue crystal) to revive them. No need to explain how didn't they starve to death in the dungeon, or why can't they just go upstairs together with player, but only through the portal.
Also won't leave feeling of "betraying" someone by leaving him/her down in the dungeon, just because there is no bed for them in the village (or any other reason).
I've got an idea!
How would it be if you could bring statues to your house and use a spell to 'revive' them. The caged NPCs with the teleporters could be unique NPCs that can only be saved once and appear inside elysium afterwards to give you further quests.
Maybe, just not a "simple spell" (like identify) but something as hard-to-get as a monster egg? E.g. a special rare scroll kinda DnD "Stone to flesh" or a potion (as rare as Potion of Life to brew, but guaranteed to be found/bought at some hard roguelike dungeon). Or something given as a reward for random (repeatable) quests.
How would it be if we just add a new monster called 'animated statue' to the game. This monster could be very rare (like one encounter per dungeon run) and dtrops an item called 'esence of life'. Using this item will revive all statues in a radius of 3 tiles around the player.
Yep. Something similar. Thou I'm not really sure about the "animated statue" ("doesn't ring a bell") and "3x3" radius (that's too much, I guess 1 per 1 reanimation is enough). However, that's about "balancing" that it won't be too easy, but still possible to get as many villagers as the player wants.
(obsolete)I guess, that defining "how" the villagers became crystals would give a better answer. E.g. if they were used as a power source by some necromancer, then killing the necromancer would actually provide with means to revive the villager. If that was some catastrophic "semi-natural" event, like magic rift then the essence of life might be "body separate from the soul", a magical anomaly of some sort. If they were captured during a "dungeon dwellers" raid to the surface, led prisoners into the dungeons, and used some machine to extract their lives and souls, then destroying this machine may give what's remaining of their bodies (e.g. alchemical ashes). Another approach may be that their bodies are lost forever. And they need some unique resource to be recreated.
If villagers are not crystals, but stone statuettes, then it's a bit simpler. E.g. they were turned to stone by kinda medusa, basilisk or cockatrice and a rare but popular "stone to flesh" scroll will just make them live again.
(another raw idea) Maybe, this essence may really be extracted from "animated statues" and used to revive other "statues" (this is logic then). It may even be used to revive non-living statues (i.e. just crafted statues that were never alive) and use them as company (sorta like pets). And they drop the same essence upon death, which can be used again either to make a statue pet or to revive a villager.
That said, to give some reasonable idea we need to know "what exactly happened to the world and what's the game lore". As I guess, that the event that caused all of them crystallized/stoned is something that has to do with "the game goal" and the "problem that the player character is solving".
//sorry, I didn't get the idea of your posts from reading it the first time (heavy headache today :)), I've made some corrections, yes, the statues are quiet nice thing to do.