Before you can slay any goblins, charm your way past a dragon, or even roll a single D20, you need to figure out who is bringing the nachos. What I mean by this, is that for all the fantastical stuff you and your players are going to be dealing with, real life logistics and scheduling is a big part of what makes a group work, and this, more often than not, is going tofall on the DMís shoulders. Unless you have one of those super motivated groups of friends (the ideal group) the best thing you can do to keep your group healthy is to stay on top of scheduling. I like to start a month by having all my players submit to me (in short order) what days of the month DO NOT work for them. I ask for those rather than the good days, as itís easier to track which days donít work, than try to cross reference everyoneís good days. For a day to work, everyone needs to be available, but for a day Not to work, if just takes one player having a yoga class that night.
Now, sadly, sometimes there may be the odd couple of weeks where it just doesnít work for everyone. Now, if you think your players can handle this and keep the spirit of the game fresh, thatís fine. But if you want to keep dice rolling on a regular basis, I use what I like to call ďThe B TeamĒ.
The B team is an alternate, often less high stakes and intricately planned, game put on for those the few who can play more regularly. It can let players try out different characters, without disrupting the story or the characters of your main group (the A team, as it were.)
Players need to be engaged and feel involved in the game, even when things aren't going their way. Find ways to encourage them, even if they failed at something. You need to keep an eye on your your players and ensure youíre doing your best to keep their moods up. You never want your players to lose interest with what their doing.
The roleplaying is one aspect of the game that some players may have trouble getting into. It can be very rewarding and help with immersion in the game, but it can be difficult sometimes. There are few opportunities for people to really roleplay in their daily lives, so a lot of people arenít going to be super comfortable with it. You never want to force these players, as it may put them on the spot and spoil their enjoyment.
The best I can suggest for this, if you want to try and get them more into the roleplaying, is to present them with opportunities, but have a plan in case they donít bite. Nothing big, just maybe ask them what they might say if they are tying to persuade an NPC to do something, or how they might create a distraction to draw the attention of some guards. It can be a slow process to make newcomers more comfortable with roleplaying, but the end result can be very rewarding for the whole group.
There are on occasion, times where you will find one of your players becoming a problem. This can come in a couple of flavours. One, I like to call, That Guy. That Guy is someone who isnít really playing as a part of the group but using the game for their own wish fulfillment. They turn very social encounter into a chance to use their specific strategy that either isnít fun for the other players, or just shuts them out completely. It really comes down to them not really caring about the context of their actions and just doing what is fun for them in that moment. This can frustrate you as a DM and alienate the other players. There are a couple ways you can deal with this, if it is bad enough that you feel the need to do so.
First, you can just talk to them. Depending on what you think would work best, this can be one on one or as part of a group discussion, though the latter might feel like you are ganging up on them. If you donít feel like they would respond to a direct approach like this, Iíve found a really good storytelling hook can drag them our of their self aggrandising bubble. Make them feel for a character, like an abandoned child or someone really in need ofhelp. If you can make them empathize with someone else, and motivate them to join the flow of the story with everyone else, youíre doing well.
The second kind of player, and the more difficult to deal with is the Rules Lawyer. This is someone who has studied the rules very thoroughly and is either constantly correcting you on small rules (often only when it benefits them) or has worked out some exploit in the rules that they refuse to stop using because it is ďtechnically legalĒ. The rules lawyer can be difficult to deal with, because technically they arenít doing anything wrong, and often feel very proud of their grasp of the rules. The best (though somewhat work intensive way), to deal with a rules lawyer is just to beat them at their own game. Really study the rules and ensure they canít fault you for anything. This doesnít really cover the ones who are using an exploit mind you. With those, you might simply have to avoid the situations where they can use the exploit, or just sit down with them and explain why the exploit is causing problems for you.
Iím still looking for a good way to handle rules lawyers, but it may just depend on your specific situation. The only real hard and fast rule I can give, is donít fudge rolls or cheat to try and frustrate them, at least not seriously. Poking fun at them might be okay, but donít make them feel like you are bending rules just to shut them down, that will only make them feel singled out and unjustly picked on.