This is something I've been toying with for a week or two. It's an expansion of ideas in this thread on common ground introducing the term "game state" and this post on perspectives and this one on who shares the SIS.
A reference frame
is a bunch of statements about the game from some perspective.
That perspective can be a person's, or knowledge that's mutual between several people. It can be knowledge in some written or physical record that maybe someone's looked at, maybe they haven't. It can be the result of applying rules processes that nobody's actually worked through yet. It can be pretty much anything, whatever.
The statements can be about imagined events. They can be about physical objects in the real world. They can be about logical entities that we need to know about in order to follow the game's rules. They can be about the social contract. Maybe these things are categorically different. Maybe it's not, whatever.
As we play our game, we'll often discover that various reference frames are incompatible.
We'll be able to identify one frame of reference with greater authority. We'll update others as best we can to match the more authoritative reference frame.
Privileged Frames of Reference
So how do we identify the privileged reference frame with more authority?
Totally depends on the social contract.
One group might invest greatest authority in the written module.
Another might invest greatest authority in the GM's private desires.
How To Use This In Your Designs
Identify a reference frame that exists in your game, or introduce elements that create a new one.
Write a rule that specifies how much authority we'll invest in that frame of reference.
"Place one gold fish cracker in a bowl per ration available to the refugees. If you butcher a fellow refugee for food, place ten pieces of beef jerky in the bowl. Whenever a character consumes a ration, their player must eat a gold fish cracker or piece of jerky. Whenever a player eats a gold fish cracker or piece of jerky, their character eats a ration or hunk of human flesh. If your character must consume a ration but there is nothing to eat in the bowl, they starve and die."
(EDIT: This is from Jason Morningstar's never-published game Open Boat.)