First, I greatly appreciate introducing worthwhile side objectives that players want to perform during a trial. I hope to see others in time. Totems are so easy to destroy, but in lore are imbued with dark powers that should make them inherently dangerous to interact with. (Like a new, bloody coiled bear trap.) :-) Here are some thoughts:
There is an in game way for the killer to better protect and for survivors to further weaken the totems as a whole beyond the perk system. Perhaps an intractable shrine in the basement that can be consecrated or desecrated. Consecration could make a chosen totem or hex more lethal or could give a broad buff to how difficult totems are to cleanse. Desecration would do the reverse, such as reverting hexes down by one perk level or speeding up how easy they are to destroy.
- The introduction of such an intractable opens the door to all kinds of perks, items, offerings and add-ons.
- This shrine or others like it could serve many purposes, like temporarily tweaking player abilities. Interacting with it could give you an objective in the form of hot/cold dark whispers, phantom auras to follow or even a sequence of interactions with a culminating special interaction to perform. Doing so in the allotted time grants a benefit. Failing to do so inflicts a negative consequence. (Imagine undertaking this quest and seconds later being thrusted into a chase that lands you on the hook... with the timer still counting down. Yikes! "Should I have tried to barter with the Entity?!")
Totems curse the survivor cleansing them: period. For lit totems, their associated hex continues to apply to that survivor for a short while. For dull totems, something that slows their action speed (or another malady) for a short time. A price for meddling with dark magic bare handed. (These negative effects could be reduced or avoided with the proper item, offering or perk in hand.)
Totems have a skill based interaction to be broken. It could be the current skill check system, or something new, like "hold aiming reticle in the center of the totem for X time to cleanse." The longer the interaction goes, the more the game could try to "buck" the reticle out of the center. If you get too far away from center, the interaction slows or even stops entirely. If a gamified interaction was introduced, this opens the door for new perks, items, offerings and add-ons.
Lastly, an old suggestion, but a good one: a perk that punishes survivors for breaking dull totems. I think it was called, "Fools Gold: lose a perk for X time when breaking a dull totem."
Thank you for all the work you do, and I look forward to hearing other's thoughts on these ideas!