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13_CBS
2008-03-08, 11:40 PM
This issue came up in my current D&D game involving ToB. The issue is this:

For White Raven Tactics, does the user of this ability count as an ally? That is, can the user use White Raven Tactics on himself? I argued that since, by RAW, it never mentions the WRT user for who WRT targets, and since for me "ally" implies someone other than yourself, WRT may not be used by the user on the user. The player counter-argued, however, that the user is his own ally.

Help! :smalleek:

AslanCross
2008-03-09, 03:00 AM
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ally

You can't be your own ally, since an ally is "someone who cooperates with another."

Pironious
2008-03-09, 04:07 AM
Generally, DnD includes yourself in "allies". However, it also usually specifies this.

E.g.


A bard with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use song or poetics to inspire courage in his allies (including himself)

Rad
2008-03-09, 07:44 AM
Usually "ally" includes yourself as the concept is rather your team/the other team in most encounters. I would allow it to be used on yourself.

Dictionaries are usually NOT a reliable source for those issues, since RAW arguments often go into the letter of the statements while dictionaries (and more so online ones) are not written with that use in mind. Plus you could find another dictionary that saya "Ally: someone who shares your goals" and you cannot but share your own goals after all...

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-03-09, 07:51 AM
You can't be your own ally, since an ally is "someone who cooperates with another."
What? You don't cooperate with yourself? :smalltongue:

In any case, I got something that trumps that:


Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook, Core Rulebook I v.3.5[/i], Glossary, p. 304"]Ally: A creature friendly to you. In most cases, references to "allies" include yourself.

In-game, D&D definitions always trump general definitions. :smallbiggrin:

Devils_Advocate
2008-03-09, 02:18 PM
What? You don't cooperate with yourself? :smalltongue:
It's the "another" part that's problematic, not "cooperates". Another = an other. Other than the person doing the cooperating, in this case.

Xyk
2008-03-09, 02:40 PM
glossary thing


In-game, D&D definitions always trump general definitions. :smallbiggrin:

There is your answer. Always check the glossary.

Irreverent Fool
2008-03-09, 02:45 PM
The errata/faq/whatever (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ask/20070731a) for ToB says that you are not considered an ally for purposes of the use of White Raven Tactics. Normally though, you are unless it says otherwise.

So by the RAW, your arguing friend is right. Just point him at this. It's still a very good maneuver.

13_CBS
2008-03-09, 02:50 PM
The errata/faq/whatever (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ask/20070731a) for ToB says that you are not considered an ally for purposes of the use of White Raven Tactics. Normally though, you are unless it says otherwise.

Really, now? Interesting...

Source?

Edit: Ninja'ed by you.

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-03-09, 05:46 PM
Naturally, that Q&A doesn't bother to explain the reason for the given answer and leaves out the usual "This is official errata" note that's generally attached to offical changes to the rules... :smallyuk:

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-09, 06:14 PM
Short Summary:

You are your own ally for anything that doesn't state otherwise in D&D. ToB doesn't state otherwise because it was intended to be useable on oneself as well. Then they realized that this creates infinite chains of Stuns and other weird **** like that, so they changed their mind. The FAQ declared that this statement that is not in the book was totally meant to be in the book, we are super serial here people.

Translation, you are your own ally for all White Raven maneuvers until it becomes a problem, then you aren't.

FlyMolo
2008-03-09, 06:17 PM
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ally

You can't be your own ally, since an ally is "someone who cooperates with another."

There's a fallacy for this. I forget the specific name, though.

However, usually I'd consider yourself as an ally up to the point where cheese was created, in which case random magical fluxes turn you into a newt.

If the powergaming tendencies are corrected, then he can get better.:smallbiggrin:

yay monty python.

Irreverent Fool
2008-03-10, 04:57 AM
Naturally, that Q&A doesn't bother to explain the reason for the given answer and leaves out the usual "This is official errata" note that's generally attached to offical changes to the rules... :smallyuk:

I think the reason for the answer is pretty clear. I doubt it was ever intended to be used on oneself. The White Raven maneuvers -- if I recall correctly -- tend to focus around buffing your group and working as a team. Giving yourself additional actions is like the star basketball player never passing the ball. Sure he can get away with it, but it's still poor form.

Besides, I'd rather give my party cleric or wizard extra actions every other round (as a warblade)

First Round:
Warblade: Hold Action
Wizard: "I cast a spell!"
Warblade: Takes action, use WRT on Wizard
Wizard: "I cast ANOTHER spell!"

Next round:
Warblade: Recover Maneuvers/attack
Wizard: "I cast ANOTHER spell!"

Lather, rinse, repeat. Bear in mind that a warblade cannot use WRT and recover his maneuvers in the same round... unless he somehow manages to get two swift actions a round. In that case, two warblades will kill everyone.

Warblade A: WRT on B, Recover maneuvers followed by a melee attack, move
Warblade B: WRT on A, Recover maneuvers followed by a melee attack, move
Warblade A: WRT on B, Recover maneuvers followed by a melee attack, move

etc... I would houserule that, in addition to the 'can't use it on yourself' bit, that nobody can get to act more than the one additional time each round allowed by WRT if they had already acted in the round.

GammaPaladin
2008-03-10, 06:23 AM
That would be kind of awesome, once. Then it would get old. But having two guys go Matrix on a crowd of bad guys would be a cool visual. Once ;)

Patashu
2008-03-10, 06:57 AM
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ally

You can't be your own ally, since an ally is "someone who cooperates with another."

You can't really pull definitions from the dictionary when arguing about terminology in a game system; games often adapt words to their own purposes, giving them their own in-game special meanings. If you used, say, the dictionary definition to define experience then crafting items should grant more experience (as it is a learning experience to do so), but evidently this is not the case.

Darrin
2008-03-10, 08:13 AM
Source?


The PHB definition of "ally" explicitly includes yourself. (PHB p. 308).

On 7/31/2007, Sage Advice/Ask Wizards was asked specifically about White Raven Tactics, and said that it could not be used on yourself:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ask/20070731a

It's not clear if the Sage was just not aware of or thinking about the PHB definition of ally, or if he was deliberately trying to close a loophole that could lead to abuse.

As you may be aware, Sage Advice rulings are not considered "official errata". At best they are RAI (rules as intended) rather than RAW. We're still waiting to see if ToB will ever get any official errata. Despite the copious number of rulings on ToB, there are still a couple gray areas. The status of "ally" in WRT is one of them, and Tumble vs. Thicket of Blades is the other one.

And yes, even if you don't count yourself as an ally for WRT, it's still extremely powerful for a level 3 maneuver. Just ask any of your spellcaster buddies if they'd like two turns in a round.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 08:34 AM
In this case the interpretation made it all the way to the FAQ, which makes it a little more than just suggestions for house rules.

There is no conflict with the PHB glossary entry in this case, since it opens for the possibility of exceptions, and by the Sage's interpretation of RAW this is an exception to the standard use of the word ally.

However, I do agree with the Windrider that it would have been nice if a more extensive answer had been given.
(Other nice things include an increase in popcorn tribute, but I guess sometimes the world is less than ideal.)


If no D&D definition of a word exist we will have to use the standard meaning in the English language and therefore dictionaries can be a valuable source of definitions, but context obviously also has to be considered, since this is a game and not an exercise in semantic misinterpretation.

Shhalahr Windrider
2008-03-10, 09:11 AM
I think the reason for the answer is pretty clear.
I'm not saying it isn't—if it's intentional errata. What I'm saying is that without some note specifying it as errata, it's just another response contradicting the actual RAW.

But the sage doesn't specify why he gave the answer, and for all we know it could be because of the dictionary definition that specifies "another" as stated above rather than the actual D&D definition of ally.

So is it errata, a sensible houserule, or just contradiction?


In this case the interpretation made it all the way to the FAQ, which makes it a little more than just suggestions for house rules.
Near as I can tell, every question on Sage Advice Online makes it into the FAQ regardless of merit—even those that are pure fluff.
Sage Advice responses that contradict each other have made it into the FAQ.
Sage Advice responses that have been a full and true contradiction of the RAW have made it into the FAQ. (This category will overlap with the second from time to time—resulting in two similar questions where one gets a correct answer and another an incorrect one.)
On the whole, I don't think what gets put in the FAQ makes for a good measure of merit.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 09:37 AM
So is it errata, a sensible houserule, or just contradiction?

It is neither. In this case it is just the correct interpretation of the RAW.

While I agree that it is nice if the necessary references are made in all FAQ entries, so we can avoid mistakes and contradictions it is not strictly necessary in this case.

The FAQ does not have the mandate to provide errata, but it does a few times anyway, which in my opinion is a bit sloppy, but better than nothing I guess.
It is usually pointed out when changes are made though, as it certainly should, lest we might think that it is an error or misunderstanding on the part of the Sage.

Likewise, house rule suggestions should be pointed out and I think we can assume that if it is not directly stated as a rules altering suggestion it is either meant as poor errata, interpretation or new rules, where none where before (which is also technically house rules, but does not really apply in this situation).

It most certainly is not a contradiction, since as I pointed out, the glossary does not exclude the possibility that allies does not include yourself, it just states the most common practice.

So, how come I do not think the Sage made an error in this case?

First of all, the language used in these maneuvers seem to restrict the use to allies other than yourself, which is of course a weak argument.

Secondly, and more importantly, the target entry in the header distinguishes between maneuvers that can be used on allies other than yourself and on allies and you. (See Lion's Roar page 92, as an example.)

This arguably differs from the most common usage in CORE, but there is no direct conflict, and the Sage is simply providing the officially sanctioned interpretation of the RAW.



EDIT:



Near as I can tell, every question on Sage Advice Online makes it into the FAQ regardless of meritóeven those that are pure fluff.
Sage Advice responses that contradict each other have made it into the FAQ.
Sage Advice responses that have been a full and true contradiction of the RAW have made it into the FAQ. (This category will overlap with the second from time to timeóresulting in two similar questions where one gets a correct answer and another an incorrect one.)
On the whole, I don't think what gets put in the FAQ makes for a good measure of merit.

See now, many people would say the same thing about some of what has been put into the PHB. :smalltongue:

Presumably the FAQ contains answers to D&D rules questions. The fact that these answers sometimes contains errors does not change this, it just means that we have to be extra careful when we read them and always have to compare them to the RAW and errata.
This situation most certainly is less than ideal, but until the late Mr. Gygax starts haunting certain Sages and a CEO that is not likely to change.

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-10, 09:59 AM
On the whole, I don't think what gets put in the FAQ makes for a good measure of merit.

Don't say that around Silvanos, from what I've gathered, the Beholder values the FAQ more then actually published works or errata.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 10:05 AM
Don't say that around Silvanos, from what I've gathered, the Beholder values the FAQ more then actually published works or errata.

May I ask on what you base these gatherings?

Saph
2008-03-10, 10:35 AM
It's worth bearing in mind that fluff-wise, White Raven is supposed to be about teamwork. The maneuvers are supposed to boost your allies and let you pull off combined attacks, so when they say 'ally', I think they mean 'someone else'.

ToB doesn't specify this all that well, but then ToB has a lot of ambiguous and confusing wordings, as well as things that obviously just slipped through the editing net, such as the stance progression for Warblades and Crusaders.

In this case, though, the FAQ makes it clear, so there's no reason to debate it. It's not like White Raven Tactics isn't powerful enough already.

- Saph

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-10, 12:42 PM
May I ask on what you base these gatherings?

Posts like the one above in which you assert the the FAQ is capable of all by itself adding rules and errata. This means that if the PHB says "You get a standard action, a move action, a swift action, and free actions," and the FAQ says, "You receive seven standard actions to do what you will with." Then you would just say, "Well the FAQ is providing needed errata."

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 01:37 PM
Posts like the one above in which you assert the the FAQ is capable of all by itself adding rules and errata.

Now, if that is the way you read all my posts I most certainly can see how you would arrive at your, shall we say inaccurate, conclusion.

The most important part of my post in this regard is the following:


The FAQ does not have the mandate to provide errata...

I have stated the same thing in other posts regarding the role of the FAQ and until now I did not think that anyone would gather anything else from my posts.

It is very sloppy to use the FAQ to provide errata, but most people would still acknowledge it as RAW in some cases:


In the previous version of the D&D game, having levels in a
prestige class never caused you to pay the experience
penalty for being a multiclass character without uneven
class levels. (The prestige class levels didnít count when
checking to see if you had a penalty.) The section on
prestige classes in the new Dungeon Masterís Guide no
longer mentions that you donít suffer an experience penalty
for having levels in a prestige class. Is this a change or an
error?

Itís an error. Having levels in a prestige class wonít give
you an experience penalty.

Even thought it technically is not.


This means that if the PHB says "You get a standard action, a move action, a swift action, and free actions," and the FAQ says, "You receive seven standard actions to do what you will with." Then you would just say, "Well the FAQ is providing needed errata."

If that was the only thing the FAQ said, assuming no context, it would be a contradiction and in that case the RAW is not changed by what we can only assume is an error in the FAQ.

However, if a D&D term is ill-defined in the game the FAQ could provide us with a definition that would allow us to interpret things slightly different.

Allow me to provide an example.


A monkís unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

So without a proper definition of "effect" we could engage in long and heated debates over whether feats are effects for this purpose and would be left in the dark as to whether INA could be applied to the monk's unarmed strikes as it requires the creature to have a natural weapon.


IMPROVED NATURAL ATTACK [GENERAL]

Prerequisite: Natural weapon, ...

Benefit: Choose one of the creatureís natural attack forms. The damage for this natural weapon increases by one step, ...

Here the FAQ steps in and provide us with a clear answer by expanding the definition of effect to include feats for this purpose at least.


Can a monk take Improved Natural Attack (Monster
Manual, page 304) to improve his unarmed strike?

Yes. As stated on page 41 of the Playerís Handbook, a
monkís unarmed strike ďis treated as both a manufactured
weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and
effects that enhance or improve eitherĒ which includes feats
such as Improved Natural Attack.

It is possible to argue that these areas are not supposed to be covered by the FAQ, but unfortunately WotC is not keen on providing errata, so I see it as a take it or leave it offer.

People are of course free to ignore the official FAQ and play a RAW game where you get xp-penalties for multiclassing into prestige classes, but I think most people accept the claim of the FAQ that it is in fact an error.


I hope that you are now convinced that your claim about my valuation of the FAQ over errata or RAW is not correct.

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-10, 02:32 PM
You can quote yourself out of context all you want, but the statements:


The FAQ does not have the mandate to provide errata, but it does a few times anyway, which in my opinion is a bit sloppy, but better than nothing I guess.

And:


I think we can assume that if it is not directly stated as a rules altering suggestion it is either meant as poor errata, interpretation or new rules, where none where before.

Clearly mean that you think the FAQ provides errata that we should agree with irregardless of whether or not it has mandate.

Very few of the actually controversial FAQ rulings are interpretation. They are mostly controversial solely because they are examples of the FAQ attempting to force new rules in to correct mistakes without using errata. Your statements, both here and in the past make clear that you think this is an acceptable use of the FAQ, and an acceptable way of correcting these problems when they arise. I disagree.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 03:10 PM
You can quote yourself out of context all you want, but the statements:

And:

Clearly mean that you think the FAQ provides errata that we should agree with irregardless of whether or not it has mandate.

It is interesting that you seem to think that you know my thoughts and that you try to prove this by making up extremely exaggerated statements about what I would say. :smallamused:

My description and thoughts about the workings of the Sage and the FAQ does not in any way imply that I agree with them.
If the mentioning or description of other people's work imply agreement or support I can think of many important historical figures that esteemed historians would be more than a little reluctant to study and write about.
In fact, by this logic even you seem to agree with what you claim that I claim and that I do not agree with.



Very few of the actually controversial FAQ rulings are interpretation. They are mostly controversial solely because they are examples of the FAQ attempting to force new rules in to correct mistakes without using errata.

Maybe you could clarify this with an example?


Your statements, both here and in the past make clear that you think this is an acceptable use of the FAQ, and an acceptable way of correcting these problems when they arise. I disagree.


Your vague references to what I have said earlier are interestingly enough even more unclear than the FAQ.

But it depends. I accept that without errata we have to use what we have to arrive at a reasonable interpretation of the RAW. That is and always has been my main goal.
I have stated earlier and restated it here that errata should be provided as errata and not hidden in the FAQ. However, if the FAQ clearly states that the RAW is in error I am not going to ignore it if someone asks about the rules governing said issue.
Likewise, if there are several possible interpretations of the RAW I am not going to blatantly ignore the one provided by the FAQ just because it is official and written by the Sage, who has made errors in the past, and perhaps less "broken" than the alternative interpretation.

Your initial claim that I value the FAQ more than the books or errata is not correct and neither is your claim of knowing what I think.
The FAQ is an important source for rules clarifications and RAI, but unfortunately it contains errors and contradictions, which means that we have to use a more careful approach when applying it.
The RAW and errata remain the most important sources for rules questions.

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-10, 03:43 PM
1) Talking about the sages thought processes does not mean you agree with him. But statements made earlier and here that the FAQ rulings on these issues are correct implies that you do.

2) As an example, I have seen a post of yours about Arcane Thesis in which you asserted that the FAQ ruling was the correct one, even though it is not interpretation at all, and is instead a direct contradiction of the text in the book, as well as a contradiction of the errata that came after it, and yet you still supported that ruling in place of those two.

3)
Likewise, if there are several possible interpretations of the RAW I am not going to blatantly ignore the one provided by the FAQ just because it is official and written by the Sage, who has made errors in the past, and perhaps less "broken" than the alternative interpretation.

And likewise if there are several possible interpretations, and some of them are obvious and others require extreme abuse of semantics, expecting higher levels of detail then are normally expressed, and just generally stretching as much as possible we shouldn't necessarily accept the stretching one just because the FAQ did.

The reason the FAQ did is because it will pull anything it can to tone down the power of anything useful in D&D. At this point D&D 3.5 edition has reached a point where in theoretical discussions only options that are of a significantly higher level of power then the baseline that Wizards strives for are real options. The FAQ, instead of accepting this attempts to bring everything down to that level, instead of just accepting that Weapon Focus is always going to be a useless feat.

And that is why I think that it should not be treated as if it's rulings are allowed to overcome the actual rules written.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 04:25 PM
1) Talking about the sages thought processes does not mean you agree with him. But statements made earlier and here that the FAQ rulings on these issues are correct implies that you do.

Again with these vague references and claims of knowing exactly how I think that are impossibly to discuss meaningful.
Obviously I often agree with the Sage and the FAQ's interpretations. I think most reasonable people share that trait.
However, I have also often criticized WotC, the FAQ and the Sage, which by your hyperbolic standards could lead some to conclude that it implies that I do not agree.
The truth is that sometimes I do and sometimes I do not, which I have tried to clarify here, but apparently without much luck or skill.

Let me try to illustrate how I would approach the inherent conflict between errata and the role of the FAQ.

Say someone asks: Do I get an experience penalty for multiclassing into a prestige class if applicable?

In that case I might say that it is an error by omission and quote the FAQ. Only if I have the time I would go into a tirade about the FAQ not having the mandate and technically not being able to provide errata.

If however, the poster or someone else pointed this out I most certainly would be the first, unless ninja'ed, to agree with them



2) As an example, I have seen a post of yours about Arcane Thesis in which you asserted that the FAQ ruling was the correct one, even though it is not interpretation at all, and is instead a direct contradiction of the text in the book, as well as a contradiction of the errata that came after it, and yet you still supported that ruling in place of those two.


The errata was provided after the FAQ ruling which I have also pointed out. I have commented on Arcane Thesis both prior and after the errata, so my answer are going to be quite different.

However, I was well aware of this difference when the errata came out and also pointed out that errata overrides the FAQ shortly after.
Here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3360022&postcount=18) and here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3362000&postcount=58).



3)

And likewise if there are several possible interpretations, and some of them are obvious and others require extreme abuse of semantics, expecting higher levels of detail then are normally expressed, and just generally stretching as much as possible we shouldn't necessarily accept the stretching one just because the FAQ did.

The reason the FAQ did is because it will pull anything it can to tone down the power of anything useful in D&D. At this point D&D 3.5 edition has reached a point where in theoretical discussions only options that are of a significantly higher level of power then the baseline that Wizards strives for are real options. The FAQ, instead of accepting this attempts to bring everything down to that level, instead of just accepting that Weapon Focus is always going to be a useless feat.

And that is why I think that it should not be treated as if it's rulings are allowed to overcome the actual rules written.

Again you are making vague accusations against the FAQ that are hard to discuss.
I agree that the FAQ may sometimes seem biased towards balance, but the counter arguments are often biased towards the most abusable and broken interpretation.


...will pull anything it can to tone down the power of anything useful in D&D.

The FAQ is the official rules interpretations. When people ask questions about the rules they usually look for the RAW or official interpretations, not my personal opinion, although they sometimes get that anyway.

It is not unlikely that other interpretations sometimes make more sense, are more balanced and better serves the need of those who seek them, but that is what house rules are for.


The FAQ is meant to provide the correct interpretation or the official RAI, but it is not RAW in that sense and if there is any contradiction between the FAQ and the actual RAW, the RAW takes precedence.

Sometimes the FAQ takes it a step further and adds new definitions or even tell us to ignore some rule, which is really in the realm of errata rules wise.

Chosen_of_Vecna
2008-03-10, 05:04 PM
I agree that the FAQ may sometimes seem biased towards balance, but the counter arguments are often biased towards the most abusable and broken interpretation.

And my point is not that it is biased towards "balance" but towards making everything of a power level that doesn't exist in D&D.

Take for exmaple Arcane Thesis: The "interpretation" (IE Completely ignoring the actual feat text) in the FAQ makes Arcane Thesis the worst metamagic reduction feat in the game, worse the anything else of similar style. Yes Arcane Thesis is powerful. Also note that if it is nerfed, there are very few metamagic reduction feats taken. (IE School Focus, Easy, Practical)

So the FAQ realized that Arcane Thesis was better then the others, and often used, and that very few of the others were. Their response was to make it worse then all the other feats. If those were the actual rules, no one would ever take it. When the FAQ is presented with a question, it does not try to answer the question, it instead tries to use the answer to nerf the questioned item below the level of comparable features.


It is not unlikely that other interpretations sometimes make more sense, are more balanced and better serves the need of those who seek them, but that is what house rules are for.

And this is exactly what I am talking about. That is not what house rules are for. Because it is not houseruling to use the real rules instead of stretched, mutilated, and contorted "interpretations" just because they are in the FAQ. The house rule here would be to use the FAQ ruling, something obviously different from the real rules.

AslanCross
2008-03-10, 05:17 PM
You can't really pull definitions from the dictionary when arguing about terminology in a game system; games often adapt words to their own purposes, giving them their own in-game special meanings. If you used, say, the dictionary definition to define experience then crafting items should grant more experience (as it is a learning experience to do so), but evidently this is not the case.

I'm aware, but I didn't know that the PHB had actually defined the word in its glossary. I assumed that since there was confusion in the matter in the first place, the rules didn't cover it.

Lord Lorac Silvanos
2008-03-10, 06:06 PM
And my point is not that it is biased towards "balance" but towards making everything of a power level that doesn't exist in D&D.

[speculation about the motivations of the FAQ]

When the FAQ is presented with a question, it does not try to answer the question, it instead tries to use the answer to nerf the questioned item below the level of comparable features.

I am glad that you now have made you position clear and you are most certainly entitled to your opinion.

However, you should note that errata is also provided by WotC and could be viewed as a correction of an earlier mistake.

You may disagree with the original FAQ ruling, but the pre-errata feat description did not deal with the stacking issue thus making the FAQ interpretation viable.



And this is exactly what I am talking about. That is not what house rules are for. Because it is not houseruling to use the real rules instead of stretched, mutilated, and contorted "interpretations" just because they are in the FAQ. The house rule here would be to use the FAQ ruling, something obviously different from the real rules.


"Real rules" and "stretched, mutilated, and contorted" you say. If it was so obvious and only one interpretation was possible there would not be much need for the FAQ in the first place.
But perhaps it is this insight of yours that allow you to understand all rules clearly and even know what other people really think and covey that in blanket statements (even though the things they say have quite a few nuances or are exact opposite)?

To reiterate, my point here is not that the FAQ is infallible, because it certainly is not, but that it is the official WotC interpretation provided by one of the lead designers and thus sometimes provides an insight into RAI and can facilitate clarification of definitions etc.
Sometimes it messes things up and even contradicts itself, which can leave us worse off than before, but these mistakes don't mean that we should completely disregard it when there aren't such conflicts.