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Basic Information

A scrip is a substitute currency, issued by a power centre that lacks either the authority, ability or will to issue a true currency.

Historically, scrips have often been used as emergency currencies - for example after an economic collapses, natural disaster or conquest and occupation.

Another, less reputable use has been the issuing of scrips by large employers to pay part or all of their employee's wages. Company scrip was normally only accepted by a small number of company owned stores in which the goods were marked up above normal market prices, thus both increasing the dependency of employees on the company and allowing an unjust profit to be made from them. A scrip based economy could also be used to control what goods and media could be consumed by employees - by restricting access to legal tender the company could reduce the flow of 'contraband' into their workforce1.

Some militaries have also been seen to pay their troops in scrip when on large deployments (albeit usually exchangeable for domestic currency on returning home), again to try and restrict what the men can spend their money on and reduce their ability to buy black-market services such as drugs and prostitutes.

Not all private scrips were created for purposes of exploitation however - even company scrips might be issued with good intentions (for example to enable a functioning economy in an isolated company town that has limited supplies of real money and restricted commerce with the outside world) - and others appear as local currencies set up by social experimenters. These can range from formal 'alternative currencies' to a less regimented 'time and gift exchange' system, depending on the culture they originate it.

The grain based local currency probably counts as a scrip, as does the rather more sinister currency of El Rey.

Technically 'gift vouchers' and other forms of store credit probably count as scrip as well, as to some degree do the early letters of credit that preceded bank notes.

Confusingly, the word "scrip" may also be used to refer to a small bag, purse or satchel. Etymological connection, if any, is unclear.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Possibly a good way to 'challenge' your PCs - treasure or payment for a job turns out to be in company scrip.
  • Likewise entering a scrip-based economy with "real money" might have all kinds of benefits and drawbacks.
  • Company scrip is also to be expected in Cyberpunk corporate enclaves and similar places - albeit quite possibly in the form of electronic currency, which may also track what is spent, by whom and on what.
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