I need to talk about two seemingly different problems that are actually closely related. The first is the disparity between what the player knows and what the players character knows. The second is the general problem of social mechanics. These problems have generally plagued games, and game systems have repeatedly tried to address them with a bunch of different mechanics, none of which seem to get it quite right.
I once played a game where my character was an “infiltration expert”. Fortunately the party was confronted with the challenge of infiltrating something. Unfortunately I am not an infiltration expert, so I proceeded in the worst way possible. My actions as a player were out of step with what had been established at the table, and it disrupted every part of play. Part of the problem was that I didn’t think to ask questions, part of the problem was that the social contract at the table didn’t establish how to ask questions; a big part of the problem is that the mechanics of the game had essentially zero rules about player character information.
This character was also had high social skills. As a player I often want to maximize my Charisma, but often find the results at the table disappointing. I’ve played a lot of different systems that have tried to address this problem specifically. I even made a system with social mechanics (with metaphor to combat). As far as my play experience goes, there has never existed a game with good mechanics for social intrigue.
Recently I had an epiphany. Social mechanics, Player Character information, and Roll to Fail mechanics are all related. Once I realized that, I knew that fact could be leveraged for rules that fix all three.