Skip to product information
1 of 6

Jumpgate Games

I Have The High Ground [PDF + Digital Package]

I Have The High Ground [PDF + Digital Package]

Regular price $9.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $9.99 USD
Sale Sold out

this is the digital-only version and does not include a physical component

the digital package including PDFs are included for free with the physical version, available here

Let’s face it: dueling is sexy.

But do you know what’s sexier than combat? That slower, higher tension duel that occurs before any damage is done—before any blow is even struck. The duel of word and wit, of melodramatic motion and threatening maneuvers. I Have the High Ground is a short collaborative roleplaying and storytelling game for 2 players about that kind of duel.  It's GM-less and genre-neutral, and takes 1-2 hours to play.

Using game mechanics inspired by competitive fencing, players choose moves in secret. After their choices are revealed, the winner takes the opportunity to flaunt their bravado or to perform subtle acts that leave a dramatic and imposing quiet in their wake. Your game is not an action-packed fight to the death but rather a portrayal of the slow, smoldering tension between two people about to risk their pride, their reputation, or even their lives.

I Have the High Ground also encourages players to ask: what exactly is a duel? You might be knights or fencers with your blades crossed for sport or mortal combat. But what if you were hackers vying for control of a contested server? A murderer and the aggrieved loved one avenging their victim? What if you’re assassins and ex-girlfriends, or in a boxing match, or bar fight, or even just a school talent show? So, who will you be? What will you do? There’s only one way to find out.

Pick your weapons, push the limits, and whenever justifiable: flourish your capes.

Mechanics

I Have the High Ground is a GM-less, mechanically light game meant for one-shot play, with just 24 pages of rules text. It can be played in any genre and even adapted to use characters from an existing campaign—it's a great way to zoom in on a tense, pre-battle scene from a game in another system. Inspired by competitive fencing, each round players choose in secret to thrust, feint, or parry. The moves are arranged in a rock-paper-scissors triangle, where thrust beats feint, feint beats parry, and parry beats thrust, scoring one point for the victor. These moves do not, however, translate to the bloody jabs of a sword. Instead, they help structure the narration that follows: thrusts resolve to vicious insults or imperious gestures, feints into provocative bait that incites opponents into emotional vulnerability, while parries resolve as cunning repartees. When one player reaches 9 points, their opponent is defeated, and the loser is forced—in a shameful outburst of emotion—to use their weapon and strike the blow that begins the ensuing battle!

Storytelling

The mechanical victory provides inspiration and structure for the narration that follows. The rules establish who gets the narrative "last word" and how players negotiate their actions so that the loser gives the victor a satisfying chance to demonstrate their victory. I Have the High Ground is a collaborative game. Players are expected to help each other tell the stories they want to tell, treating losses as an opportunity to show their characters weaknesses and demonstrate their opponent's strengths.

Character and Setting Creation

Players begin with a combination of open-ended prompts and pre-written options designed to ensure that each character develops into a dramatic foil of their opponent. Players establish a history between their characters, whether that be “rivals”, “ex-lovers”, or both, and select narrative advantages—like the “the high ground”, “superior fashion” or “to be your opponent’s exact type.” Which player selects first depends directly on the most important mechanic: the cape rubric. The player with the finest cape chooses the section of character creation in which they will receive first pick.

the digital package includes single and spread PDFs of the book and printable character and background sheets

View full details