Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Pathfinder Society

Pathfinder Beginner Box

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Comics

Pathfinder Legends

Faction Handouts = / = Success Conditions (Spoilers)


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

In part 1, of City of Strangers the faction handout for Osirions did not match what was required for a "success condition" for that faction at the end.

Here is the, word for word, faction handout - important parts bolded

"This letter’s introduction couldn’t be more truthful—you truly are one of the Ruby Prince’s most trusted servants and because of that he asks you to accomplish several very important tasks while you’re away in Kaer Maga.

Attached is a letter from the Ruby Prince to the golem-creating Ardoc family in the City of Strangers. It’s important that only someone with the last name of “Ardoc” receives the letter—it cannot be given to a slave, servant, or employee of the family. An Ardoc must break the seal.

Further, one of the Ruby Prince’s best bodyguards left his service several
years ago and is believed to have traveled to Kaer Maga to join the city’s prestigious Duskwardens. His name is Gahiji, and he’s likely the only Garundi working for the Duskwardens. You must use your considerable charm to convince him to return to Sothis — should he do so, the Ruby Prince has agreed to make him one of the Risen Guard, an honor I hope he doesn’t decline."

So, you need to give the letter to Ardoc, and only Ardoc. Right? Wrong.

Here are the success conditions for the faction, again, word for word, and again, important bits bolded.

"Osirion Faction: PCs from the Osirion faction who secretly deliver Amenopheus’s letter to a member of the Ardoc family earn 1 Prestige Award. PCs from the Osirion faction who also find the Duskwarden named Gahiji and convince him to return to the Ruby Prince’s service earn 1 bonus Prestige Award."

Secretly deliver? There was *nothing* in the letter to indicate that the player must deliver the letter secretly. However, "secretly" is definitely intentional, because in the scenario there is a mission notes mention that reads:

"Osirion faction PCs can deliver Amenopheus’s letter to Besel Ardoc, but they must do so without being seen by non-Osirion faction PCs."

I dealt with it by assuming that there was something lost in the editing process between the faction handouts and the actual success conditions, and not penalizing the PC that took time to RP with the guy and ensure that he would read the letter himself.

What would you have done?

Qadira ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Give the PC credit for completing the mission in the spirit of the orders they received. After recognizing there's a disconnect in the scenario, in future games advise the player that their first mission must be accomplished secretly. Maybe write it right on the mission handout.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

Doug Miles wrote:
Give the PC credit for completing the mission in the spirit of the orders they received. After recognizing there's a disconnect in the scenario, in future games advise the player that their first mission must be accomplished secretly. Maybe write it right on the mission handout.

Thanks Doug, I'll probably add a note to the side of the faction mission that says, more or less "do this part in secret." Good suggestion ;)

Andoran *****

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber
WalterGM wrote:
Thanks Doug, I'll probably add a note to the side of the faction mission that says, more or less "do this part in secret." Good suggestion ;)

You will see this as a common occurrence, there are many Faction missions that say they are required to be done in secret but no hint of that is given in the faction briefing.

After talking to one scenario writer about this, he was under the belief that by default all missions should be done in secret and that need not be clarified in the mission briefing. This disconnect could be similar issue with the many other times you will see it come up.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

Dragnmoon wrote:
WalterGM wrote:
Thanks Doug, I'll probably add a note to the side of the faction mission that says, more or less "do this part in secret." Good suggestion ;)

You will see this as a common occurrence, there are many Faction missions that say they are required to be done in secret but no hint of that is given in the faction briefing.

After talking to one scenario writer about this, he was under the belief that by default all missions should be done in secret and that need not be clarified in the mission briefing. This disconnect could be similar issue with the many other times you will see it come up.

Interesting. I recall reading a post where a scenario writer commented that the difference between the handouts and the in-scenario text was because a second party had written the handouts at the end, and thus there was some editing confusion. If the general rule is "secret unless otherwise" I'd like to hear more opinions on that, as, although it could be plausible, I worry when parties need to make that DC 25 obscure check there's going to be a lot of people that don't get full prestige :P

Edit: or even have a chance to. It's like telling the people that play sorcerers they will never get a skill related fame point, unless they invested their 2-4 skill points in it by chance.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

If I may offer my own insight as an author?

(And what I say is not official. I serve at the pleasure of Mark and Mike. I make mistakes sometimes as well.)

Quick disclaimer: I don't believe that I am the author that Dragnmoon and WalterGM are referring to.

Within my experience in Season Three, I not only write the faction mission itself. I also write the in-character mission handout at the end. I don't know if this was always the case in previous seasons.

My understanding is that faction missions are not a secret, unless I specifically mandate them to be so.

And sometimes I do require secrecy. Out of two scenarios, I think there is one, or at most two factions that have to be done secretly. The majority of them do not have that requirement. Why do it at all? Because I know candy-dish missions are not well received. We're trying to jazz the missions up. Having to do it in secrecy adds a layer of complexity and challenge. At least that is my theory anyway. Nevertheless, it is impractical to expect that in every faction mission- I'd think it would devour too much table time. If every player needed private GM attention to perform something in secret there would be no time for the group mission.

Please, if that isn't working, or you have concerns- let me know. I'm all ears!

Osirion ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

In the few cases where this has come up for me, I have always erred on the side of the PCs. As long as the PC doesn't make a huge production of it I don't mind. I figure the faction heads know something the GM doesn't ;)


Jim Groves wrote:
We're trying to jazz the missions up. Having to do it in secrecy adds a layer of complexity and challenge. At least that is my theory anyway.

I can't speak for everyone, but personally I find the secret missions are just more irritating and less immersive.

Why?

Because 9 times out of 10, it seems like it involves going through a kabuki dance with the other members of your party where player A says "I'm just going to wander over here by myself for mysterious purposes, but you wouldn't find my ultra-secret, extra-special task to be at all interesting, nope, so why don't you just stand over there?" and player B has to pretend not to notice or care because otherwise he's being a dick.

And as an extra bonus, your unallied teammates can't help you with the inevitable skill check (unless you go through a DOUBLE TOP SECRET kabuki dance where player B helps player A while pretending not to understand what he's helping with).

Andoran ** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Fayetteville

^ This. The smart parties, that play together often, have a vested interest in their buddies' successful completion of faction missions, since that makes their buddies' characters more powerful and therefore more generally useful. So secret faction missions deny you the ability to use teamwork without OOC "wink, wink" shenanigans, and sometimes can really toe the PvP/griefing line.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Fair enough gentlemen,

I sincerely appreciate the feedback. I'm going to be trying some GMing ASAP (to see what it's like in their shoes), but I (we?) can't do things differently without the knowing the problems.

If there other opinions, please speak up- but Hogarth and Charlie make compelling cases.

Silver Crusade **

I kinda like having a mix of faction missions being secret sometimes, but not others.

Even when they're not secret, I still treat them as semi-secret. ie "Can you help me get that MacGuffin? I know someone in Absalom who would be interested in studying it", without mentioning that the "someone" is their faction leader. But at least that allows for some teamwork.

But I do agree that secret missions that require specific skills are annoying. I don't mind a secret mission to pass off a note or something, but if it requires a DC 20 knowledge check that can't even be attempted by half of all characters, and can't be succeeded at by 80% of those that can attempt it, then that's just really annoying.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

1 person marked this as a favorite.

@ Fromper,

(Not discounting Charlie, or Hogarth, but playing Devil's Advocate)-

So the idea of a secret faction mission isn't so unappealing *IF* the mission requirements are such that almost any character could complete it. In effect then, doing it and maintaining the secrecy itself is the challenge?

But then by that same logic, it can't be too dependent on Stealth and Stealth related skills. Right?

Role-playing based, or role-playing with easier DCs?

Or.. as Hogarth suggests, the whole thing is still an obvious and contrived mess? (as the other players see through it anyway)

Silver Crusade **

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just think faction missions that are difficult because they require very specific skills should allow for teamwork, in case the person doing it doesn't have the right skill set.

So yeah, only the "easier" missions should be totally secret, and then the fun is role playing out the bluff to get away from the rest of the group and do what you need alone. But I do think that can be fun sometimes.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

Thanks for posting Jim! Contributors / Paizo staff commenting on boards is why I like using these forums.

On the topic of missions requiring specific skills. Have you ever (or other writers you may know) given thought to mentioning that other skills could be used to achieve the same goal. For example, an Osirion has to recover a large stone tablet. They could either make a craft (stonework) or knowledge (dungeoneering) to know how to safely remove the tablet. Or, presuming the information was more important, they could make a linguistics or profession (scribe) check to jot down a copy. Something like that?

I know some GMs reward creative playing, but I have come across a few that are hardliners for what is included in the scenario. "It says DC 20 Perform (wind instrument), so good luck!"

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I have alwayd felt that the factions missions by default were meant to be done 'under the radar.' If they didn't care if people saw them or knew what faction you are, they wouldn't bother with the little handouts, but just have someone tell you in the open.

Most people don't seem to agree with me on this, and that's fine. It just feels to me that you lose a little something to the whole faction thing when someone at the table asks publicly if there are members from their faction there. Or whene people bluntly ask for assistance on their faction missions; I prefer to trick people into helping me.

I make sure I have about 5 copies of the faction missions on me to hand out to players so if they chose to be secretive they can be. Or vice versa.

Regardless, the current set up supports both ways of doing it.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

WalterGM wrote:
Thanks for posting Jim! Contributors / Paizo staff commenting on boards is why I like using these forums.

No problem! I'm actually quite enjoying it. I'm just hoping that I don't become a pest for Mike or Mark. And standard disclaimer: I can only speak to Season 3, and from my own experiences.

As an aside, I'm kicking myself for not reading these forums and talking to the community earlier. You guys are teaching me a lot.

WalterGM wrote:
On the topic of missions requiring specific skills. Have you ever (or other writers you may know) given thought to mentioning that other skills could be used to achieve the same goal. For example, an Osirion has to recover a large stone tablet. They could either make a craft (stonework) or knowledge (dungeoneering) to know how to safely remove the tablet. Or, presuming the information was more important, they could make a linguistics or profession (scribe) check to jot down a copy. Something like that?

I don't talk to the other authors much, other than Dennis Baker and Ben Bruck. I should confer with them more!

Mr. Moreland's instructions specifically say that if a faction mission calls for a trained skill, that we need/must suggest another possible solution. In one case I had a delicate manuscript that was falling apart, it could be copied quickly, Linguistics could help memorize the contents till later, or the mending cantrip could just salvage the whole book.

Granted, if it's a untrained skill, then sometimes I only suggest one solution.

Some feedback I have been hearing suggests that doesn't go far enough. That we should provide multiple solutions for every mission whether it's a trained skill or not.

What do you think?

WalterGM wrote:
I know some GMs reward creative playing, but I have come across a few that are hardliners for what is included in the scenario. "It says DC 20 Perform (wind instrument), so good luck!"

I don't want to be an "armchair quarterback" and second guess the GM in that situation; but I think as an author that is a bit much to ask. Then again, I have suggested Linguistics along with at least one other possible solution.. so I don't know if I am *that* much better.

*************
There are a couple more variables to this discussion, as well:

A.) What is the expected success rate on the faction missions? (And that is a rhetorical question, because that is the purview of Mark and Mike, not me)

B.) What role does teamwork play in the existing success rate?

Again, being cautious not to overstep my bounds, from what I understand the faction missions are an optional, additional reward, and as such they're meant to be difficult. If the community perceives them to be something they must accomplish or the player has "failed" then a mixed message and expectation is being communicated. That's something I'm seeing and wondering about from the "middle" perspective between Developers and Community.

Comments welcome!


Clint Blome wrote:
Or when people bluntly ask for assistance on their faction missions; I prefer to trick people into helping me.

You mean kabuki-dance-secret-pretend-tricking the PC, or actually tricking the player? (If you actually accomplished the latter, I'd be surprised.)

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

Interesting info regarding trained/untrained skills -- that makes sense to me.

As for your two questions.

A) I know that as a player, I aim to have a 100% success rate. However, the myriad of required skills / actions to get them have led my characters to be progressively more skill oriented, to try and get that 100% rate. As a GM (which I do more of than playing), I see about an 80-90% success rate, with players being shocked/dismayed when they don't get the "maximum" amount of fame per game. I would fall into the camp that puts success rate in the 75-80% range. Players should have to work for them, they shouldn't be gimmes (like ones that have you kill the BBEG -- that you were going to kill anyway), but they should be achievable if the player puts enough effort into it. And I would argue that effort would involve building a character with more than ranks in perception, climb, and swim.

B) Unless specifically stated as secret, my players nearly always help each other out (unless it's like that Sczarni mission where you had to remove someone's tongue -- while they were alive). And, for players with no ranks in anything except perception, it probably makes their success rate go way up. I know for a fact that a handful of my players would have maybe 10% of the fame they currently have if all faction missions were secretive, simply because they tried to optimize their character and neglected to include a wide assortment of skills.

Shadow Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Washington—Eastern Washington aka WalterGM

hogarth wrote:
Clint Blome wrote:
Or when people bluntly ask for assistance on their faction missions; I prefer to trick people into helping me.
You mean kabuki-dance-secret-pretend-tricking the PC, or actually tricking the player? (If you actually accomplished the latter, I'd be surprised.)

I've seen a great example of this,

Spoiler:

Slave Pits of Absalom.

Cheliax mission: "rescue" slave by sending them to a cheliaxian slave trader that will re-appropriate them to be resold, thus jacking up slave prices in Absalom
Andoran mission: something that's not directly freeing slaves.

I was playing a cheliaxian cleric, and my wizard friend and I convinced the Andoran paladin to help us "free" these poor slaves. He was delighted to help, and even split the cost of purchasing them with us. We kept straight faces until the end of the game, when the GM read off the various factions and their success conditions. After that, he never trusted us again ;)

Grand Lodge ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
hogarth wrote:
You mean kabuki-dance-secret-pretend-tricking the PC, or actually tricking the player? (If you actually accomplished the latter, I'd be surprised.)

Both, the second is far harder, but it is doable :D

Silver Crusade **

WalterGM wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Clint Blome wrote:
Or when people bluntly ask for assistance on their faction missions; I prefer to trick people into helping me.
You mean kabuki-dance-secret-pretend-tricking the PC, or actually tricking the player? (If you actually accomplished the latter, I'd be surprised.)

I've seen a great example of this,

** spoiler omitted **

Re: Your spoiler for Slave Pits of Absalom.

Spoiler:
When we played that adventure, the Shadow Lodge character with that Cheliax mission was good aligned, so when she started freeing the slaves, I figured she was just role playing her alignment. My character helped, just to be helpful, even though he was neutral aligned and didn't care about the slaves. But we also didn't pay for them - we beat up the slaver and took them.

I was surprised to learn at the end of the adventure that freeing the slaves was a faction mission for that particular faction. I hadn't seen that coming.

Cheliax ****

Fromper wrote:
WalterGM wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Clint Blome wrote:
Or when people bluntly ask for assistance on their faction missions; I prefer to trick people into helping me.
You mean kabuki-dance-secret-pretend-tricking the PC, or actually tricking the player? (If you actually accomplished the latter, I'd be surprised.)

I've seen a great example of this,

** spoiler omitted **

Re: Your spoiler for Slave Pits of Absalom.

** spoiler omitted **

That is my favorite Cheliax faction mission, ever.

Andoran ** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Fayetteville

Faction missions are important enough, and skill-focused enough, that I have usually played skill monkey PFS characters. It's probably a very frustrating experience for 2 skill point classes unless they have helpful friends.

Jim, I completely agree with the design idea of multiple ways to accomplish faction missions. Players are endlessly inventive, but some PFS GMs are less comfortable with rewarding player ingenuity, especially if faction missions are worded so as to require specific skill checks. IMO, PFS faction missions should specify ends, not means, of accomplishing the task. GMs should give credit if the PC gets the job done within the parameters, no matter how.

Now incorporating stealth in those parameters gets more palatable if the parameters are expanded in other ways.

For instance,

nonspecific minor possible spoiler:
There's a scenario where the Andoran faction mission is to determine whether some guy is an Eagle Knight in disguise by finding out if he has a certain tattoo. The catch is you can't let on to him that you're trying to find out. The "accepted" way is to ask the barmaid he's sleeping with about his tattoo. But there are no indications in the scenario that she's his girlfriend. But imaginative players could come up with any number of ways to find out about the tattoo, or determine whether or not he's an Eagle Knight without recourse to the tattoo: anything from detect thoughts to challenging him to a game of shirts and skins basketball.

So I am not necessarily against stealth missions, but those missions in particular have to be designed so that a character of any class could conceivably have a way to do them without resorting to party assistance. Hard faction missions are OK. Unwinnable faction missions are not fun.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 4

Charlie Bell wrote:
Jim, I completely agree with the design idea of multiple ways to accomplish faction missions. Players are endlessly inventive, but some PFS GMs are less comfortable with rewarding player ingenuity, especially if faction missions are worded so as to require specific skill checks. IMO, PFS faction missions should specify ends, not means, of accomplishing the task. GMs should give credit if the PC gets the job done within the parameters, no matter how.

Good feedback Charlie!

Of course, that is up to the Powers That Be Mark and Mike.

And they have some thoughts on the matter already. But it's good to get it out here so we can all chew it over.

Paizo Employee ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gunvaldr Gislasson wrote:


That is my favorite Cheliax faction mission, ever.

My favorite Chelaxian Faction mission is in Eyes of Ten, part 1.

Cheliax *

Michael Brock wrote:
Gunvaldr Gislasson wrote:


That is my favorite Cheliax faction mission, ever.

My favorite Chelaxian Faction mission is in Eyes of Ten, part 1.

Awww I'm playing Osirion for that instead of my usual Cheliax. Oh well I'll look at it after playing it and see if I agree.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

My favourite faction mission is the Taldan mission from City of Strangers where you have to...

Spoiler:
insult a powerful figure and get a beating from his men

...because:
(a) it didn't involve any tedious obligatory skill checks or item fetching,
(b) everyone at the table got to enjoy the roleplaying,
(c) it didn't have to be done in secret, although there was a certain amount of head-scratching from the other players!

Silver Crusade **

hogarth wrote:

My favourite faction mission is the Taldan mission from City of Strangers where you have to...

** spoiler omitted **
...because:
(a) it didn't involve any tedious obligatory skill checks or item fetching,
(b) everyone at the table got to enjoy the roleplaying,
(c) it didn't have to be done in secret, although there was a certain amount of head-scratching from the other players!

It wasn't just the other players who were scratching their heads. Even the guy stuck with that mission had no idea what it was about. Our group still jokes about "I do this for Taldor!" all the time.

Andoran ** Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Fayetteville

The Andoran corpse-fetching missions turned into a running joke in my last PFS group: "whose corpse are we supposed to bring back this time?"


Fromper wrote:
It wasn't just the other players who were scratching their heads. Even the guy stuck with that mission had no idea what it was about. Our group still jokes about "I do this for Taldor!" all the time.

That's a sign of a good faction mission, in my opinion -- it's memorable for everyone at the table (not just one PC and the GM who are passing notes back and forth, say).

Andoran ***

Jim Groves wrote:

There are a couple more variables to this discussion, as well:

A.) What is the expected success rate on the faction missions? (And that is a rhetorical question, because that is the purview of Mark and Mike, not me)

B.) What role does teamwork play in the existing success rate?

Again, being cautious not to overstep my bounds, from what I understand the faction missions are an optional, additional reward, and as such they're meant to be difficult. If the community perceives them to be something they must accomplish or the player has "failed" then a mixed message and expectation is being communicated. That's something I'm seeing and wondering about from the "middle" perspective between Developers and Community.

A) I believe the published expected completion rate is supposed to be 1.5 per scenario.

B) It plays a fair role, but, without it, the success rate would drop waaaay below that 1.5, too.

Fame, unfortunately, past a certain level for a PC is no longer optional. At some point, you get to where the Always Available items, and the items listed on Chronicles, just won't supply either appropriate items (Chronicles) or items of the correct power level (Always Available) for the PCs to be able to handle opponents of the appropriate CR.

Sure, up to 4th level or so, +1 weapons & armor will be fine. But, once you start getting into opponents with specials, nasty specials, they just won't cut it.

Incorporeal, DRX/Y, higher level spells, higher level abilities, etc. require more powerful items.

Some higher power items can be imitated, in some ways, by mundane items from newer books, like the Ghost Salt weapon blanching from the Patyhfinder Society Field Guide can "stand in" for Ghost Touch as a weapon enhancement, but it has serious limitations, as well. One attack, rather than a whole combat, as an example.

But Seeking, Keen, higher enhancement weapons needed to support Sunder attacks, etc. All require having higher Fame.

One of the many background complaints is that keeping the balance between higher required fame and making fame not a gimme is difficult to adjudicate.

Especially since some items require significantly more fame than almost identical items, like special material armor and weapons require more fame to enhance to the same level as plain steel armor and weapons.

***

Fromper wrote:
It wasn't just the other players who were scratching their heads. Even the guy stuck with that mission had no idea what it was about. Our group still jokes about "I do this for Taldor!" all the time.

He's right. Plus, we get great re-use out of "The Eagle flies free in insert your geographic location here!"

Basically, anytime one finds oneself doing something nonsensical or crazy (like purposefully triggering a trap, falling over 100' into boiling lava, etc.), I encourage shouting "I do this for Taldor!".

Osirion **

Our fave was the Andoran fighter. Worst. Messenger. Service. Ever. In several scenarios he would be in the middle of beating down some poor shmoo, stop and ask for the schlups name, and then say "Message for you, sir." And then recommence the beatdown. A couple of times he'd beat the guy unconscious and while stripping the body figure out that this was the guy he was supposed to contact. It got to the point that everyone at the table would look him expectantly. The first couple of times he just looked at us and said "What?" Our response: "Don't you have a message for him?"

Grand Lodge *

lmao

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo Publishing / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder Society® / Pathfinder Society GM Discussion / Faction Handouts = / = Success Conditions (Spoilers) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

©2002–2014 Paizo Inc.®. Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours: Monday–Friday, 10 AM–5 PM Pacific Time. View our privacy policy. Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc., and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Online, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.