Investigations And Actions
There are two main IC ways to get GM'd attention and information: Research (the @investigate command) and Actions (the @action command). They each have a specific purpose, though we have not always historically been great at separating them:
* Research is to turn up /existing/ information. Ancient texts, bits of lore, existing research. Are you looking into the history of Caer'alfar? Are you looking into what 'Fractals' were, or what the term 'familiar' means? These are research tasks. Ask yourself, is if someone else ran the same research, would they potentially get the same information? Indeed, research can often turn up clues that someone else already has. And sometimes, research will turn up clues that aren't what you were looking for, just as often when you are in a library you might turn up things you didn't expect.
* Actions are to /do/ something. If it's specific to you -- if what we write is clearly never going to have existed in lore yet, if it's going to involve your own name in the result ('When Pax tries <X>, the results are <Y>'), or if you're investigating another player's past actions (and so need to roll to determine if they others hear of what you're doing), it should be an action. Actions can have success/failure rolls and are always guaranteed to require a custom result written up for them, which is why there are limits placed on how often you can do them.
To illustrate the difference, if you were looking into what a familiar /is/ and how they were bonded, that would be research. If you were going to take attempt to hunt down an animal that would be a suitable familiar and bond it, that would be an action.
Additionally, if you're looking into current events, looking into lore similar to a current event might be research ('why would someone's skin turn blue and then they melt?' could turn up existing lore), but looking into the scene of an event ('I'm examining the room to see if I find any clues to why Joe's skin turned blue before he suddenly screamed and melted into a puddle of goo') would get a response specific to your attempt to look into things, and thus should be an action.
Actions will always be handled by a GM manually; we will do rolls and write up a result or set up a GM'd scene to resolve it. Research, however, is half-automated: whatever you put in as the subject of a research @investigation will often target existing clues. If you put in a research @investigation for 'Ruby Fractal', it will try to match any clues you don't have that are tagged with 'Ruby', but also those tagged with 'Fractal'. If you already have every clue about Ruby, it is possible you might get a clue about some other Fractal, or about Fractals in general.
This can sometimes feel disappointing, if it's not exactly what you wanted, but the automated results are necessary to make sure that the staff isn't writing a new clue for every single research job in the world. But this does mean you should probably think carefully about what you put in as your investigation topic when researching; if you get clever with your titles, it might target something you don't expect. If you are looking for something about Ruby, don't put 'Red Gem By Night, Researcher's Delight!'; the system won't know what to do with that, and it will probably target something about scholars ('researcher') or jewelers ('gem'), lacking anything to tie it to Ruby.
Hopefully this helps clarify the systems a little bit. If you have questions, /please/ feel free to ask on the Info channel if it's a general question, or @askstaff if you have a question about how to handle a sensitive topic you want to look into; both staff and other players will be happy to help!