Spoil scrips are the method by which player characters accumulate "experience" in the game. Use of the scrips is explained on pages 127-128 of the rule book. How to prepare the spoils scrips at the beginning of an episode is explained on pages 123-124.
Each player starts with a spoil scrip, but since they are constantly passed around during the game, it's not "the player's scrip." To help distinguish between all those pages here in the virtual world, we'll use colours to designate the scrips. Here is a scrip template to start new spoils scrips; it can be simply copied and edited for each new scrip page.
Scrips — what they are for
Scrips are probably the portion of Full Light, Full Steam that require the most work from players, and that are the most difficult and mechanical aspect of the game to handle online. They are also somewhat different, in terms of mechanics, than what most of us are used to. I thought, therefore, that I would take the time to post about them so that we could use them efficiently.
I'll be adding page reference from Full Light, Full Steam for those who feel like looking this stuff up. For those of you who don't care, just ignore them.
If Full Light, Full Steam were an automobile, the engine would be the thematic batteries that the players select for their characters. Thematic batteries are supposed to be referenced a lot in the game. They have a powerful mechanical effect (dice promotion is very powerful in this game), they are important in design and construction of conflicts (situation engineering is based on them). Thematic batteries are also tied into the experience system if the game, which is where scrips come in.
According to the rules, "During a scene, players may pass a spoils scrip to another player if they narrate something that refers to the player character's thematic batteries. " (p. 127). This can be a direct interaction with the player character (if that character is present in the scene) or simply an indirect reference to the character's thematic batteries (if that character is not present in the scene).
Let me give a couple of examples, using Sir Guy Thatcher's thematic battery of "British Upper Crust". In the first example Sir Guy and Ms. Coppersmith are on the bridge of the Iris when they receive a distress call from a British freighter which has been boarded and looted by pirates. Berenice mutters "Well, that ought to put a dent in some Lord's pocket book," and Sophie passes over a spoils scrip for Mark to sign.
In the second example, Midshipman Peabody has been captured by ruffians who are attempting to hold him for ransom (Peabody is the only player character in the scene). "You'll never get away with this!" shouts Peabody, "Captain Thatcher is an officer and a gentleman - he will never give in to the base demands of ruffians!" Peter passes over a spoils scrip for Mark to sign.
References to thematic batteries do not even need to be direct. So, for example, if Sir Guy is discussing the condition of the Iris with Smythe-Peabody, he could say to "that blasted infernal Babbage engine is a piece of utter rubbish!" and hand over a spoils scrip to Sophie for touching on her "Great Inventor's Daughter" thematic battery. In this case he is setting up a future conflict between Sir Guy and Ms. Coppersmith over the relative merits of her father's design.
Spoils scrips can also be given to the GM by referencing the ship's thematic batteries. So if Eleanor Santiago is having a discussion about the Iris with someone, and enthusiastically mentions "I believe that we will see a marked increase in performance due to the novel arrangement of the sails." she can hand over a spoils scrip to the GM.
Spoils scrips should move around the table a lot, because players should be referencing each other's thematic batteries often.
Having mentioned how they are used, let us now turn to what spoils scrips are for. In addition to keeping the thematic batteries of the characters in the forefront of the plot, scrips do two additional things. They are the experience point mechanic for the game (see pp. 127-128), and they govern the ending of scenes (also on p. 128).
Whenever you pass a spoils scrip to a player, that player signs his or her name on the scrip. If they have not signed that scrip previously in the given scene, you score three spoils (which is what experience points are called in this game). If they have signed the scrip already you score one spoil. It is a simple enough mechanic, but I find it quite elegant for two reasons.
First, it encourages and rewards players for bringing uninvolved characters into a scene. You get more spoils for referencing someone who hasn't signed the spoils scrip than by referencing someone who has. I think that's nice.
Second, though this is not overtly stated in the rules, I believe (and will accept as true in this game) players can, in extremis, refuse to sign a spoils scrip if the reference being used steps on their view of what the thematic battery represents. As an extreme example let us assume a hypothetical player (we'll call him "Djirk") decides to reference Berenice Coppersmith's "Great inventor's daughter" battery by stating "Oh yes, Faustus Coppersmith — he was an eccentric wasn't he? And that stint in bedlam for multiple rape, sodomy, and pedophelia certainly didn't help his reputation, now did it, har har!" Djirk passes over a scrip to Sophie. But Sophie does not particularly want her character's father to be a convicted rapist and pedophile, so she politely passes the scrip back to Djirk (then beats him senseless).
In addition to this, spoils scrips govern how a scene ends. They are used in one of two ways.
The first is "Full Circle". Any time a spoils scrip contains the signature of all the individuals involved in a given scene, the holder of the scrip may elect to end the scene and set the next scene. As an example, Sir Guy Thatcher and Eleanor Santiago are in a scene together. Earlier Mark had passed Laura a scrip, which she had signed, and Laura now references one of Sir Guy's thematic batteries and passes the scrip back to him. Once Mark signs the scrip he can now declare the scene over and set the next scene.
The second method is the "jump cut". If any player passes a scrip referencing the thematic battery of a character (PC or NPC) who is not in the scene, the receiving character may immediately end the current scene and frame a new scene in which that character is present.
Note that neither of these options is mandatory. Mark, for example, is not required to end the scene when he receives the scrip from Laura. He simply has the opportunity to do so.