An RPG campaign lives or dies on the engagement of its players. The game and its story draws players; the experience at your table keeps them. Successful campaigns keep all players participating and having fun. This is the return on the investment of the group’s time.
Involve the whole table. Don’t let the usual extroverts dominate the adventure. Don’t let introverts sit silent. Seek interaction from everyone. Encourage discussion and collaboration within the group. Build adventures that require the unique skills and abilities of all characters of the party. Call on each player to contribute.
Players should contribute as much to the success of your campaign as you do. Expect them to pay attention, ask questions, think critically, and act in keeping with their character. Lead them to recognize that this enhances their experience and that of their fellow players. Play to their personal strengths. Draw them into active participation. The players have a role in moving the adventure forward.
Do not play favorites. The dice and the logical outcome of circumstances in a night’s adventure determine what happens to a character; not your opinion of the player. Characters must be given only their due; no better or worse on account of their player. Reward skill and critical thinking; repay foolishness with misfortune. If players feel that success in the game comes only from the favour of the DM and not from their efforts at role-playing or luck of the dice, they will disengage from an unfair game.
Create a sense of fun. The players should leave a game session feeling better than when they started – regardless of success or tragedy in the night’s adventure. A game session should always be an enjoyable time for every player. Players should come away knowing they achieved or failed by the wisdom of their decisions and the luck of their dice rolls. Always allow for players to do something awesome or unexpected.
A good role-playing game is about sharing control. When players feel they have some control over their character’s fate, and they are able to contribute and enjoy the experience to that end, they will come back for more.