I've seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? more times than I can count. I've rewatched the first season of The Good Place three times in the past six months. I played through each of Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic at least twice. I know plenty of people who can recite huge sections of Star Wars by heart, or entire comedians' monologues--because they've seen them so often.

But RPGs are a different matter. Once you've played through an adventure, you've learned its secrets and spoiled its surprises; there's no reason to do it all again. Or is there? Repeating a gaming adventure isn't common, but it does happen. I've recently had a few discussions with people about repeating games, and here's what I've learned.

Nostalgia alone can be fun. Here's a reason that's not on this list: "to revisit a classic adventure." Some people I talked to claimed that some adventures are classics that they enjoy replaying, and playing with others again and again. That's hogwash. Few of those older adventures are classics: the Caves of Chaos is just silly and bad, and Tomb of Horrors is aggressively mean-spirited. They aren't classics in the way that certain books and movies are. What these people mean, I think, is that they had a particular, personal experience with the adventure that they replay to recapture. This might be the thrill of finding the magic weapon Whelm for the first time, defeating the evil Nualia, finally piecing together the Destiny Map, or some other positive experience. The replay triggers nostalgia, and that can be fun. 

Options are sometimes very limited. At first blush, it's ridiculous to say there aren't enough RPG adventures out there. My bookshelf has more adventure material than I could play in the rest of my life if I gamed every single night. And the number of free or cheap adventures available online is staggering. But RPG gamers tend to pigeonhole themselves really quickly into specific games or niches. Groups don't get together to play any game, they get together to play Starfinder, or Torg, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the universe of adventures for one system can be small, particularly if it's brand new (and therefore popular because of its novelty). I know people who are playing in 3 different campaigns of the Dead Suns adventure path for Starfinder, because it's the only 6-part Starfinder adventure path out there (already an old statement as I write this, though).

There's a tangible benefit for replaying beyond the experience. Many organized play campaigns have limited adventure options, particularly at the beginning of the campaign (and the prior point about limited adventure options applies here, too), but many players have more than one character they've made. Advancing characters in such campaigns generally requires playing the same adventure multiple times for the "credit" to level up characters. Alternatively, some adventures provide a significant benefit--such as an ability score boost, a particular magic item, or some other benefit that isn't otherwise available--and getting that benefit for multiple different characters requires playing the adventure more than once. Again, this tends to be an organized play phenomenon, and replay is always a carefully considered (and often restricted) component of organized play rules. 

It feels good to overcome a past failure. Sometimes things go horribly wrong, and an adventure ends in some dramatic failure. Particularly if the adventure is short, or if it's been a long time since the failure, a player may want to take another run at it to see whether they can succeed a second time. This might also be the case when a player learns that a GM ran an adventure badly or wrong, or if some large portion of the adventure was skipped. There's an old Dungeons & Dragons adventure that I mishandled when I ran it--there were lots of teleportation chambers on a tropical island, I recall (and a wereboar wizard they met waaaay earlier than expected) and when I'd later realized how much I'd mishandled it, my group was good about giving it another try. 

It helps learn a new system. Learning a new gaming system requires a lot of mental investment, as I've mentioned before (and will undoubtedly mention again!). I've said there are two primary legs to learning any new system: learning the game rules, and learning the game world. A designer can make the process a bit easier by having an established game world, and this applies to an adventure as well. It's not laziness that compels Wizards of the Coast to re-release its older adventures in each new rules system (I've played Tomb of Horrors in at least 3 different game systems). It takes a familiar adventure setting and teaches new players how the new rules apply. If you're going to get disintegrated by a green gargoyle face, learning that you have to make a save vs. death, a Fortitude save, or a Constitution all help learn the nuances of new rules.

It's more common as a GM. I'm surprised I didn't think of this before talking to other people, because I've personally experienced it. GMs sometimes become so comfortable with a particular adventure (or adventure series) that they keep coming back to it. Sometimes, this is to reduce cognitive load: if a GM is running adventures in 8 different slots at a convention, it's much easier to prepare 2 adventures to run 4 times each than it is to prepare 8 different adventures. Sometimes, it's a real love of the story: I know a GM who has run the Dragonlance RPG adventures for at least 4 different groups. My personal story is this: I had an adventure for the Living Greyhawk organized play campaign premiere at a GenCon several years ago, and I signed up to run my adventure 7 times. By the 7th time, I didn't even take anything out of my bag until 2 hours into the session: I'd learned the adventure so completely that I didn't need to (ultimately, I needed to know the specific save DC for a scythe trap because the players was reaaaally close to either failing or succeeding). That's a level of comfort that many GMs seek, and I think it translates into a better experience for the players sometimes, too.

There's nothing wrong with repeating an adventure; there are even some good reasons to play through an adventure you loved (or even only sort of liked) another time. For GMs, I think there's even more reason. So freely replay as much as you'd like, but think a bit about why you're doing so and what you can bring to the adventure the next time around!