Warnings are out-of-character alert messages from Staff sent to your player account which cannot be dismissed until you reply to them. These are typically sent when a player has broken a guideline repeatedly, or when they are being questioned during an investigation. If the discussion becomes in-depth enough, sometimes the player will be asked to bring the discussion out of the game, onto the forum, for example.
Investigations are cases of rule breaks where evidence is being gathered for consideration of enforcement. All players are innocent until proven guilty, but that does not mean they will always be informed before enforcement takes place, or even that an investigation is going on about them. If reports of trolling yield plenty of evidence, for example, there will be no hesitation in applying a ban to disable the account in the interest of the rest of the community. Basically, the right is reserved for staff to enforce the rules without notifying the player (as stated per the Terms of Service). However, less clear allegations such as a Golden Rule break, or complicated events which turn up accusations (Player A was using OOC knowledge of Player B to gain an advantage), are treated with courtesy, the assumption of innocence, and a cooperative attitude. If the investigation provides enough context to incite reasonable doubt, the player will be notified via email, their account will be immediately suspended until the investigation is over, and a conversation will initiated. One of the first questions to be asked at this point of the player will be whether or not they would prefer the investigation to remain private (between the player and staff), or if they would prefer the investigation to be public. That decision is final.
A private investigation means that the details will not be shown to other players while evidence is gathered, and the player can maintain anonymity, regardless of the results. Even if an investigation shows the player to be innocent, other players may carry their own out-of-character biases in the game, and could treat the suspect differently (which is against the rules, but is not always enforceable). If this is a concern, it is probably best to keep the issue private. Private investigations take place in a private staff section for archiving purposes.
A public investigation will air all evidence found by staff, and can be reviewed or commented on in the forums by other players. If a player would prefer the investigation to be transparent for any reason, such as if Staff integrity is in question or because a public investigation may prevent corruption, then this is the best option. In addition, if a player feels that corruption is an issue with a particular staff member, Nyx should be messaged directly. Regardless of the reason, a public investigation also allows for the rest of the player community to infer their own conclusions from the evidence presented. This type of investigation does come with certain risks, as described in the Private section, but if a player feels the truth will be its most pure when exposed, then they should absolutely move forward with using this form of disciplinary discussion. Public investigations take place in the Investigations section of the community forums, where anyone may view and forum members may comment.
Suspension is when an account is temporarily disabled. The player will not be able to log in, they will just see a page with a staff message, the date when the suspension has been set to be lifted, and the reason the suspension was applied. During suspension, characters are left in-tact, but are set into a hibernation state. While in this state, they will not grow hungry or age, and they cannot be attacked. This ensures that, while a player is under investigation, their characters will only lose a time with others, but the character itself remains just the way they were when the suspension was applied. If the suspension is lifted, then the player can, more or less, pick up where they left off (although their loved ones may not feel the same way).
If a player feels that an enforcement that was applied to their account was unfair, and they have a compelling reason for believing so, and a public investigation has not already taken place, they can appeal the decision. The GM will decide whether the reason for the appeal is compelling. If it is, the investigation will be reopened and investigated by the GM. An appeal can be requested by messaging Nyx or by sending an email to [email protected] or [email protected]
Bans are permanent. A ban is reserved for players who has broken the Golden Rule, or broken General Rules too many times, whose investigations have shown them to be guilty - or - for players who have shown behavior (such as spamming or trolling) which is determined to be malicious in nature. Malicious behavior is interpreted as a complete disregard for the game community, and so perpetrators of malicious behavior will be treated with as much respect, via immediate ban, in order to protect (and mitigate damage to) the game story, roleplay quality, and its denizens.