First off, my players aren't the most dedicated roleplayers. This itself isn't a > huge deal as long as they at least try to play their characters and not
themselves. They only play their characters in the third person and when
addressing NPC's in game they would rather say, "I tell him X," or, "We tell
them Y". Their lack of roleplaying isn't the issue but it probably contributes
This isn't a big problem, in the grand scheme of things. I understand that you might prefer a little more effort, and by all means feel free to ask them for it, but I don't think the lack of role-play is really a factor here.
For example, if the party discovers a locked door with a magnetic shield over
it, they would just cut through the wall next to it. If I were to tell them the
shield extends to the wall I would just get a collective sigh from the group. If
a bunch of outlaws were using a cave as a base, my players would just pile up
logs at the entrance and ignite them in an attempt to suffocate the inhabitants.
If I give the occupants oxygen masks it looks like I'm just railroading them
No offense, but you ARE railroading them. This is a situation that can best be resolved by adjusting YOUR behaviour to suit them. Let your players' ideas work, and come up with new twists, rather than immediately shutting them down with the most obvious counter move possible.
Your players want to solve the problems you put in front of them in their own way. As other responders have already said, this is generally a good thing. Better a player who cares in a way you didn't expect than one who doesn't care at all.
Instead of telling them the force field extends over the wall to stop them from cutting through, simply allow them to cut through and move on. Later, an enemy patrol will find the hole and sound an alarm, preferably at a dramatically appropriate moment (ie: worst possible timing for the players.) Or have a patrol stumble across them while they cut, as was also suggested. OR, have there be guards on the other side of the wall, ready and waiting because they've been watching the pointy end of a lightsaber cut through the wall for the last several minutes.
Instead of magically giving the outlaws oxygen masks when the fires start, allow the outlaws to escape through a second entrance on the other side of the mountain. The players don't see any sign of outlaws while they wait for the smoke to fill the cave - maybe they notice a plume of smoke after an hour or so and realize there's another way for it to escape the cave. The outlaws can run away, circle around to ambush the players outside the cave, or hole up near the second entrance (where they can still breathe) and prepare for a forthcoming assault.
Tracking beacon aboard their ship? They just tell me that they're going
to take X minutes to just find it instead of wasting their time rolling.
Answer that it will take a lot more than MINUTES to find a tracking beacon on a star ship. For all they know it's stuck on the outside of the hull - this isn't just a case of turning over all the throw pillows. If they want to go over the entire ship meticulously rather than rolling a skill check, they'll need to land somewhere and spend a few HOURS doing so.
Also let them know that this option will remain valid even after they've tried (and potentially failed) the skill check, but the skill check might let them find it much faster. That will probably leave them inclined to try the roll.
As an aside, if your players complain that making dice rolls is a "waste of time" that may be an indication that you're asking them to roll for too many things. Not everything NEEDS to be resolved by the dice. In particular, things that are not time sensitive or don't have serious long-term consequences can generally be hand-waved without too much ado.
A few sessions ago they were ambushed in the jungle. Before the first round of
combat even began they took ten real minutes to strategize their entire
counterattack and to calculate the damage it would take to take out the
attackers. I'm all for creative solutions but their constant pausing of the
action to engineer the perfect solution for everything just removes the
immersion or any sense of tension for everyone involved.
How to handle this kind of situation is highly subjective. Invoking a time limit of turns or threatening to skip player turns is one way to go - although given that they're already grumbling about you railroading them too much, I doubt that would go over well.
Another option would be to let them take their time strategizing. Thematically speaking, their characters are all highly trained warrior-monks, and would probably be able to run through the tactical options in their minds a lot faster than a group of teenagers who've never been in a real life-or-death fight before can. In the meantime, you can LISTEN TO THEM TALK, and take notes about what they expect will happen, which you can then work with to make the game exciting and fun for everyone. Keep the ideas you like and use them, twist or toss out the ideas you don't. Keep in mind that you probably want the players to win the fight in the end, so don't come up with escape clauses for everything.
I've had more than a few games where the players praised "my great ideas" for things, when the truth is they were the players' ideas cribbed from these sorts of planning discussions.
Should I just play along as long as they're having fun? Do I just make every
enemy they come across irrationally over prepared? Should I plate every
mundane wall in starship armor just so they bother with the door? Maybe I'm
the problem for preparing a campaign for Jedi when they want to play as
Jedi ARE soldiers, in their own way. They can wade through armies of droids, reflecting lasers left and right. They can lay waste to entire planets with a handful of men.
Don't make the enemies OVER prepared, but don't make them entirely ignorant either. There's a fine line between making the enemies SMART and making them TOO SMART.
If the enemies have a fortress that the players need to break into, they're probably prepared for the idea that SOMEONE might try to break in. That's what fortresses are built for, after all. You don't need to line the walls in starship armor, but absolutely do set up patrols through common areas. Have guards posted in logical choke points and outside important doors. Use security cameras, dogs (or alien dogs from Chekov-9, whatever), laser beam fields, etc. DROIDS come in all shapes and sizes, and can be used to secure ventilation shafts or hide in less obvious positions. If there's a sith or other force-user among the enemy, he can monitor for force presences and things like that (although if there's NOT a force-user among the enemy, they would probably be weakly defended against such things.)
Whatever you prepare in advance for a given session, be prepared to throw it out the window if the players come up with an idea you hadn't considered. LET THEM DO THEIR THING and respond to it logically, rather than shutting them down immediately because it isn't the approach you planned for. In quiet moments (while travelling, camping for the night, etc) ask your players what they're doing, or how they're preparing for the fight ahead (whatever they expect at that moment they will be facing.) Encourage them to talk and plan ahead, and take notes while they do.
You have as much right to have fun as they do, so consider your own feelings while you do all this, but try to think of it an an opportunity to make your friends' enjoyment better, instead of as a problem you need to fix.