How to deal with low agency players?


I have a group of players who is very intent on playing "Dungeons & Dragons" specifically but suffer from having astoundingly low agency.

For example, if placed in a room with nothing but a door, the players might spend fifteen minutes in idle discussion. Overall, they spend more time on idle speculation about past events and characters than engaging the present situation. This is not an issue of consensus building or analysis paralysis – the players simply don’t readily engage the present situation if it does not demand an immediate response. Regular dungeon exploration is essentially out of the question.

Comparatively, they will readily engage with combat encounters (albeit they never use any character abilities or tactics, simply taking the Attack action every turn – nonetheless this seems to make them quite happy.)

I am leery about any solution that might feel like I am playing the game by myself. For example, I could assume the players open doors they come across rather than defaulting to assuming they do nothing, but at some point this becomes ridiculous – e.g. assuming they jump on a trampoline they encounter. Similarly I would be reticent to lead the players by the nose using an NPC.

One solution that comes to mind is setting the characters up to manage a specific location such as a town or base, where they can primarily be acted upon by outside forces (e.g. attacking bandits, visiting merchants, etc.) Assuming this were the best solution, I would be looking for resources that facilitate this style of play.