I've been running games for some friends who had no prior experience in D&D (any edition).
One issue I've encountered is people simply not knowing they can do something. Being used to other game formats where you have set, limited options, after the obvious/simple solution has failed, they're stuck. Or they have a class/racial feature that is forgotten when it counts. This has led to variably giving up on sections of dungeon, characters downed thanks to missed opportunities for a kill, traps blindly walked into, undiscovered clues/plot points.
Examples that led to this question:
- No one thought to break down a door that couldn't be picked.
- Fighting style bonuses not applied. Wild shape not used.
- Extra attack/bonus actions not used.
- Shooting a crossbow when fireball is the answer to a packed group.
Is there an acceptable way of nudging players that they have additional things to do?
For the "obscure" actions I've been asking an insight check to see if they remember what they can do ("Mage hand can get that key you can't reach").
But in combat that feels sarcastic, and makes the game drag, so I'm a bit more direct in saying it ("you could still smite for extra damage").
Is this the right thing to do? I don't wish to take away any agency, but 90% of the time it's being oblivious that x is an option, that could be crucial!
This wasn't such an issue in the first few sessions which were basically tutorial, of how to play, and what makes their character special. But gradually it's becoming a headache for me to remember each PCs abilities as they gain levels, and frustrating when they remember about, for example, damage reduction from heavy armour master when they're bleeding on the floor!