And you thought this election season was dicey–here’s a look back at the time that a local election was decided with a roll of a natural 20.
It’s a leap year, and in addition to having an extra day in February where you can trade in your tears for candy and do whatever you want without consequence, it’s election season. And that means that everyone’s gearing up for their Super Tuesday and arguing about which state is the best indicator of how the rest of the population in the country is going to vote, or why the rules for how candidates are selected are dumb, or how they should be allowed to apply their own homebrewed fix for rules they perceive as broken.
And if that sounds an awful lot like the sorts of arguments you get around the table at a roleplaying game, you’d be right. Games imitate life and vice versa a lot more than you’d think. Sometimes the best thing you can do is hope to roll a crit–as happened back in Contra Costa, CA in 2018. That’s when a hotly contested local election for the coveted prize of the District 1 seat on the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District which provides water to “a multi-county special district [including] parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin Counties across 47 square miles and 30,000 acres.”
According to KPIX CBS SF Bay Area, the election had just 147 registered voters, and of those–a significant number participated, 110 to be precise. Both the incumbent and the challenger received 51 votes each. According to California state law, a tie must be decided by lot–a random contest which, as you’ll see in the video below, made the office get a little creative.
In one of the stranger moments in history, D&D has influenced real-world politics. Now, sure, it was just a roll of a d20, which can be used in a variety of RPGs, but the big reason the d20 is popular is, that’s the one that D&D used and it’s one of the more iconic aspects of the game. So it’s not that much of a stretch to say that D&D is responsible for that d20 being in that office. Which is absolutely my favorite part of the story–someone in the office who “just happened to have” a d20 lying around got to see it put to good use.
Both candidates would roll off 3 times, with the candidate with the higher total winning the election, and the seat on the Irrigation Board. The scores were fairly close right up until the end, when the incumbent rolled a natural 20…
…and sealed the election. Life really does imitate art, I suppose, but there you have it. Also let’s not lose sight of the fact that both of these candidates were rolling hot–the lowest roll was a 13–I need to track that die down the next time I’m a player in a campaign.
At any rate, take care adventurers, you never know when being able to roll a 20 will come in handy.
Seriously though, register to vote, and then vote. Every election. Every time. Now we have proof that one vote is equal to a natural 20.