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- Off the Sheet
In my Age of Worms campaign, a buddy of mine decided to make a tempest fighter that wields two whips, wears light armor, and hunts undead. The idea was that he wanted to be able to trip things a lot, having made a similar character in 3rd Edition. Fortunately in 4E whips are
much more useful, and there happened to be an at-will exploit that lets you drop a critter prone on a hit. Despite everything except his damage contribution working out well enough, it got me thinking: why can't you just try to trip a creature?
This train of thought--allowing a player to do something that isn't cited in the rules--reminded me of a thread on RPG.net, in which a poster explains that with Essentials he can "swing from a chandelier, slide down a banister, and perform a leap attack," something which also isn't cited in the rules, but for some reason is permissible (or perhaps merely encouraged?) via Essentials.
This person isn't alone. I've read other posts from people that have this misconception that if a class provides you with a list of exploits, that that's all you can do (or at least heavily encourages that train of thought). To paraphrase, "if its not on the sheet, it won't happen". In other words the line of thought is that with all the powers character are given in pre-Essentials classes (typically 4-5 if you don't count basic attacks), that they tend to focus on their sheet and less on their environment. On the other hand the statement still holds true for Essentials as well, its just that characters have less on their sheets to work with (especially in the case of martial classes).
There is nothing in any class--Essentials or otherwise--that inhibits creative thinking. Personally in my experience players rarely interacted with the environment in older editions simply because the actions and dice rolls required often meant that it would fail, and even if it succeeded, would only contribute in a miniscule way. 4th Edition not only made creative thinking easier to execute, but also grant meaningful results, both of which have encouraged my players to at least consider attempting actions off the sheets.
If you want your players to be creative, give them opportunities to be creative. It's not about the class features or number of powers, but about ensuring that the alternatives are equally compelling. If pushing a monster into a terrain ends up dealing a marginal amount of damage, no one is going to bother trying a bull rush and instead use a "normal" attack (probably something with forced movement). If knocking over a brazier full of searing coals deals a hefty amount of damage to an area of effect, you can bet that its going to be up for consideration.