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Tipcards and Tipping in the Empire - Culture
Written By: Ellen Million (Writer), Deirdre / Wyld_Dandelyon (Developer), Elizabeth Barrette (Developer), Lorna (Comtessa) (Developer)
It is common to 'tip' for good service and to show appreciation, but tips aren't always in money!

There are some correlations between the amount of cash tipping that a society does, and the level of corruption, since tipping neatly dodges taxation. The Empire has a great deal of corruption, but they also don't have a standard system of taxation. They do, however, still track payments and costs very closely, and cash tipping confuses records. So this is discouraged (via propaganda), and instead, tips are now more often of fragments of art and literature. Cards with one-tick literature, short poems, or artwork are now the preferred method of tipping. Some creative tipcards may include a lip-print (Olarali, in particular, favors this!), a spore print from a mushroom, or the rubbing from a butterfly wing, sealed with resin. Sneak previews of next season's fashion fabrics might play a role, or a dab of a personalized perfume. Most tip cards are a standard size, 2.5 x 3.5 inches, to fit in a special pocket in the back of a license pouch.

Tips may still be coins or tokens, but that's considered garish compared to tipping in art.

Tipcards are collectible, and may legally not be sold, but they may be traded, and there is a growing gray market for some popular artists and writers. Tipcards may be lithoprints (very low-end tips), or originals (which vary greatly in value). Some tipcards are done on the spot, but most are carried with a citizen to give out for service they encounter through the day.

Almost anything involving service is eligible for tips, including government jobs such as Monitors and assistants at the licensing offices. Tipcards may even be given to people who provide random assistance on the street - helping to pick up dropped papers, or holding a door. In fact, the only people who are not able to accept tipcards are people making actual decisions on licenses - a relatively new policy in place to fight corruption (tipcards made of pressed gold and jewels pushed the issue).

Servers may argue over who gets to wait on a particularly popular artist or writer, hoping to get a valuable original!

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