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Making The Feral Barbarian


Advice


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Alright, because I am so in love with making a character who specializes in 'unarmed strikes' (and yes, that includes natural attacks), I decided to go ahead and post my advice for constructing a very effective 'unarmed' Barbarian. I will try my best to explain in detail the progress of the barbarian, as well as provide excellent equipment choices and an analysis of the appropriate rage powers. And so, with that being said, let us start with the feats first...

Feats (FYI, this progress assumes that you are human)
1. Power Attack, Raging Vitality
3. Improved Unarmed Strike
5. Two-Weapon Fighting
7. Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
9. Double Slice
11. Greater Two-Weapon Fighting
13. Raging Brutality
15. Two-Weapon Rend
17. Hammer the Gap (When making 10 attacks, this feat just pays for itself)
19. Toughness (Or Desperate Battler if you REALLY want more damage).

To start things off, I'd like to explain why I feel that a human is the perfect race for this sort of build: 1) You REALLY need the extra feat. Believe it or not, making an unarmed striking two-weapon fighting barbarian REALLY does require a large feat investment, and being a human can also give you plenty of versatility when powering up your attributes. 2) The favored class option for a human barbarian is EXTREMELY powerful, as it really does power up your Superstitious bonus.

Now then, lets move on to your rage powers...

Rage Powers
2. Beast Totem, Lesser
4. Superstition
6. Reckless Abandon
8. Beast Totem
10. Beast Totem, Greater
12. Ghost Rager
14. Witch Hunter
16. (Whatever you like)
18. (Whatever you like)
20. (Whatever you like)

Typically speaking, I would normally encourage anyone to go with the Invulnerable Rager archetype, as I personally find it to be one of the strongest archetypes a barbarian can choose. That being said, I'm sure many of you are wondering "Why didn't I add 'Come and Get Me' rage power" to the list of rage powers we could choose from. Well, in my experience, when building the 'unarmed striker' barbarian, the Come and Get Me rage power really doesn't help as much.

The trick about the unarmed striker is that it typically won't hit nearly as hard as the classic 'two-handed' barbarian (who is more than likely workin' the crit as well). However, while our individual strikes don't hit as hard, the sheer number of our attacks more than makes up for that (especially when combined with the right items).

Now, for items, here are a few of them that I would recommend...

+1 Brawling armor (any light armor will do, but you should typically choose something that can hold your Dex. I basically go with Haramaki personally) - For a mere 4,153 gp, you can get a powerful +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls with unarmed strikes, which is obviously very powerful.

+3 Courageous Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists (yea, i know, late game item...but you can still buy a Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists for fairly cheap) - Basically when you rage, you get a +5 enchancement bonus to all your unarmed strikes and natural attacks (which helps to overcome DR...and don't you DARE say that it doesn't...lol), and you also get huge boosts from your moral bonuses as well.

Monk's Robes - I won't lie, this item is kinda optional. I mean, upgrading your 1d3 to a 1d8 is pretty sweet, but variable damage really isn't all that important. Still, if you have the spare gold, I'd probably buy it.

Ring of Rat Fangs - You need all the natural attacks you can get, and while I realize that you could probably just take the Animal Fury rage power, buying the item (in my opinion) seems a lot more convenient since it frees up room for other rage power options at lower levels.

Ring of Evasion - Your Dex should be huge (especially from Superstition), so you should almost NEVER fail a reflex save.

Now, as far as the build is concerned, your initial 5 levels will start out somewhat basic. Essentially, you wanna go ahead and grab a two-handed weapon level 1 (probably with some spears for good ranged attacks as well). When you reach level 2 and obtain your claw attacks, you can basically just drop your two-handed weapon and fight with your claws whenever you rage. By level 3, you can continue to use your two-handed weapon, but now you have the option of adding your 'unarmed strikes' with your claws whenever you activate rage. By level 5, you should be strictly sticking to your unarmed strikes from this point onward.

The reason I like this build so much is because nothing is wasted: every aspect of the barbarian's rage powers are used to the fullest with this sort of setup, and ironically enough, it actually proves to be very effective. The best part though is that with the Superstition bonus, combined with the favored class option, Courageous bonus, and Ghost Rager power...well...you basically almost become immune to casters:

You will almost never fail a save, and I'm fairly certain that a caster will never hit your touch AC either.

Anyway, I hope this post was insightful, and feel free to leave comments if you like. Thanks again for reading, and take care :)


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

How do you feel about Claw Blades?


Well, Claw blades only apply to catfolk to begin with, but in all honesty, I don't really like them.

The issue with Claw Blades is that they take away your 'natural attacks' and instead force you to consider them as manufactured weapons (thus eliminating the extra attacks that natural weapons give you). In addition, I feel that (in the long run) enchanting an AoMF is actually cheaper (I mean, it enchants your 'two-weapon fighting unarmed strikes' AND your natural attacks all in one).

But yea, I personally like the simplicity of just enchanting my AoMF.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, Scion of Humanity Angel-Blooded Aasimar with Racial Heritage(Kobold) and Tail Terror is strong.

You can pick up Angelic Flesh and Eldritch Claws for DR.


The reason I never enjoyed the 'racial heritage' into tail terror idea is because you pretty much have to burn a feat for almost nothing. I mean, Catfolk, Tengu, Changelings, and Tieflings can all get natural attacks fairly easy. The problem with using Racial Heritage is that you are basically burning two feats to get a 'secondary' natural attack.

There's really no sense in burning a feat when you can just be a tengu and get 3 natural attacks level 1, all at your full BAB (and it doesn't even require a feat).

I mean, you COULD burn 7 feats to get the 'wing attacks' and 'tail terror' abilities for the Aasimar...but again, that's basically using up almost ALL of your feats just to pull off a very minor trick.

By that point, you could probably spend half of those feats just to increase your damage, and probably still achieve a stronger result.

Also think Angelic Flesh and Eldritch Claws are pretty worthless when compared to the benefits of Amulet of Mighty Fists (your attacks will overcome DR with it anyway, and adding the enhancement bonuses is the strongest way to increase your overall damage output).


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Well, with the Alter Self ability, you can grow natural weapons.

Amulet of Mighty Fists won't help with material based DR either.

If you go at least four levels of Fighter, then you can combine Feral Combat Training with Martial Versatility to apply all unarmed strike effects to all natural weapons.

This includes the Brawling enchantment.


The enhancement bonus from AoMF will actually help overcome the material based DR very easily. Under the description of overcoming DR, it specifically states that a weapon with a high enough enhancement bonus overcomes certain DR

+3 = overcomes Cold Iron/Silver
+4 = overcomes Adamantine (but not hardness)
+5 = overcomes Alignment-based

Therefore, the only issue that you have to worry about is DR slashing and piercing. However, because your claws deal slashing damage, and your bite is piercing, you can basically overcome all the DR issues without any problem.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Actually, a single level dip into Unarmed Fighter, grabbing Dragon Style, should be fine.

Oni-Spawn Tiefling, with the Scaled Skin, Prehensile Tail, and Fiendish Sprinter alternate racial traits may work better.

The choice is whether you want the Alter Self ability to gain natural attacks, or the Maw or Claw alternate racial trait.


I'm a bit confused - if you're attacking with natural weapons, are you allowed to make unarmed strikes as part of the same attack? I was under the impression that you could either do claw/claw/bite at full BAB, or unarmed strikes with iteratives at TWF penalties, but not both in the same turn. Is the idea behind having both just for flexibility (such as when you're not raging), or are you combining the two?


You can basically combine unarmed strikes with natural attacks so long as you don't use the same limb.

For example, I can make a kick/unarmed strike, and still use my claws in conjunction with my full-round.

This method basically affords me up to 11 attacks on a full-round action (3 natural attacks with 7 unarmed strikes, and 1 hasted attack).


Oh that makes sense, for some reason I assumed you were still using the natural attacks as primary weapons.

Why is it only 7 unarmed strikes, though? By level 16 shouldn't you have 4 regular attacks, 4 "off-hand" attacks, one from ITWF, and one from GTWF? For a routine like kick(-2)/kick(-2)/kick(-7)/kick(-7)/kick(-7)/kick(-12)/kick(-12)/kick(-12)/ kick(-17)/kick(-17)/claw(-5)/claw(-5)/bite(-5)?

edit: nvm, I hadn't realized TWF only gives one attack per round. Now I see why it's 7 unarmed strikes - kick(-2)/kick(-2)/kick(-7)/kick(-7)/kick(-12)/kick(-12)/kick(-17)/claw(-5)/ claw(-5)/bite(-5)


This biggest bonus that I think dragon style would give you is that not only do you get half of your (sizeable) strength bonus to all of your unarmed attacks (and claws if you take feral combat training), you can also use the more favorable Power attack ratio on your unarmed strikes, which will give you even more damage.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ashern wrote:
This biggest bonus that I think dragon style would give you is that not only do you get half of your (sizeable) strength bonus to all of your unarmed attacks (and claws if you take feral combat training), you can also use the more favorable Power attack ratio on your unarmed strikes, which will give you even more damage.

It does not affect Power Attack.


Has that been officially Errata'd? I've seen it argued both ways repeatedly and am personally in the camp that it does. Though really it doesn't matter what we say, rather what the OP's DM says about it.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ashern wrote:
Has that been officially Errata'd? I've seen it argued both ways repeatedly and am personally in the camp that it does. Though really it doesn't matter what we say, rather what the OP's DM says about it.

It doesn't need to be errated. Power Attack refers to how a weapon is wielded, not the strength damage bonus.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Power Attack is altered when used with a Natural attack that adds x1.5 str to damage.

This is done by having only one natural attack, or combining Dragon Style and Feral Combat Training.


Tentacle Cloak gives you 2 natural attacks with tentacles.


tentacle cloak is only a 'once a day' sort of deal (wish it was more then that, but sadly it's not). As for Dragon Style...well, I'm not really sure if that would add a lot of power. i mean, it only applies to the first unarmed strike made in a round so...yea...that does really seem worth the feat (at least in my opinion). Maybe I'm just not seeing the trick or something.


I happened to be putting together an unarmed rager, which was very similar, with one or two differences... I would think that a level of martial artist monk (so no lawful requirement) would work for this character, you would trade a level of barbarian, of cores but you gain a whole lot,

Specifically,
You get the free monk feat (combat reflexes or dodge)
the monk version of improved unarmed strike

"A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk striking unarmed. A monk may thus apply his full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his unarmed strikes."

This is better than the basic feat for three reasons, one it's far more clear that you can use this to knee/kick/elbow while still claw/claw/biting if your dm is hesitant to allow it. Two it's full strength damage on all unarmed attacks without double slice. Three since it's specifically not an off-hand attack, you also get the normal power attack damage boost

You also get stunning fist (which comes in useful in a bit), plus better saves.

You do lose a point of bab, as well as a rage power and up to 4 hps, and you're a level off for all barbarian rage powers, which means you'll either be a point behind, or even with where they would be normally

You now don't need to spend feats on unarmed strike, or double slice, and then you can't take two weapon rend.

But with those feats saved and having stunning fist, it lets you add dragon style (mainly useful for the charge-pounce) and more importantly dragon ferocity. Now you're adding 1.5 str damage on all 7 or 8 unarmed strikes, with crits automatically giving them the shaken condition for gravy.

Plus you've still got a feat free

As a side note, the tengu is a good alternative to a human for this setup... you don't need the free rage cycle as much as a normal barb, because you don't have as many feats free, and while you lose the feat and the stats aren't as nice, you have the same awesome favored class superstition bonus + 3 natural primary attacks at level 1


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Fiend Totem at level 2 would give a Tengu 4 full bab attacks at level 2.

I agree the Feat is a strong draw but Tengu get the Superstitious bonus too and it would be far more fun to play than another human.


I'm assuming with your monk, you're wanting to abuse flurry of blows rather than using TWF. If this is the case, keep in mind that you can't use natural attacks when using Flurry.

I do the your points about a martial artist being a strong option, but to be fair, the 'variable damage' (in other words, dice roll damage) isn't really relevant in the long run.

And while I do agree that a tengu can make an 'excellent' unarmed striker, the problem is that it has a penalty to it's constitution score (which is kinda important for Barbarian's) and that the Beast totem rage powers are not easily replaced.

I've heard the argument that it 'IS' possible to have 2 sets of claw attacks (one on a tengu's feat...and the other on their hands) but I doubt a GM would allow that. Even so, just getting the extra 'gore attack' is really not worth losing the ability to pounce (at least in my opinion).


No, the main point to the level in martial artist is to save some feats and to get a better str multiplier on damage. You would still need to use two weapon fighting + natural attacks.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
The choice is whether you want the Alter Self ability to gain natural attacks, or the Maw or Claw alternate racial trait.

Where is the "Alter Self" alternate ability for the Aasimar please?

Scarab Sages

Captain Sir Hexen Ineptus wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:
The choice is whether you want the Alter Self ability to gain natural attacks, or the Maw or Claw alternate racial trait.
Where is the "Alter Self" alternate ability for the Aasimar please?

Angel Blooded (Angelkin) in Blood of Angels.


the 'alter self' thing is only 'once a day' I believe...and if that is the case, I honestly wouldn't rely on it in order to make the build work.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Maw or Claw then. Follow the Beast Totem line for Pounce.


I was thinking of building an alchemist with dip into barbarian. It might turn into barbarian with dip into alchemist. I'll have to look at the magic items when I get home. I'll look into that +3 courageous furious amulet of mighty fists. I know dr is going to be a problem for my build.

edit:
Furious can't be applied to amf:

Spoiler:
Furious
Source: Advanced Player's Guide

Aura moderate enchantment (compulsion); CL 8th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, rage; Price +1 bonus.

DESCRIPTION
This ability can only be placed on a melee weapon.

A furious weapon serves as a focus for its wielder’s anger. When the wielder is raging or under the effect of a rage spell, the weapon’s enhancement bonus is +2 better than normal. If the wielder has a rage power that gives a skill bonus while raging (such as raging climber, raging leaper, or raging swimmer), the wielder gains an enhancement bonus to that skill whenever the weapon is wielded or held in hand, even when not raging; this bonus is equal to the enhancement bonus of the weapon (including the +2 when the wielder is raging).


Amulet of mighty fists works with melee only special abilities, from the srd it says:

Alternatively, this amulet can grant melee weapon special abilities, so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks.

I don't see how furious wouldn't apply to an unarmed attack any more than the basic + enhancement


im always an advocate of guarded life/improved GL and flesh wound (could be those last three) to become muy muy macho, but then you aren't an invulnerable rager you wouldn't take quite as much advantage of it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Daniel Pace 505 wrote:

Amulet of mighty fists works with melee only special abilities, from the srd it says:

Alternatively, this amulet can grant melee weapon special abilities, so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks.

I don't see how furious wouldn't apply to an unarmed attack any more than the basic + enhancement

I read that since it says "can only apply to melee weapons" in the description of the enhancement of furious means that unarmed strikes are excluded. I note this because other enhancements don't have a qualifier on what they apply to. From your quote "so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks".


Kahn Zordlon wrote:


I read that since it says "can only apply to melee weapons" in the description of the enhancement of furious means that unarmed strikes are excluded. I note this because other enhancements don't have a qualifier on what they apply to. From your quote "so long as they can be applied to unarmed attacks".

There are four main categories of special abilities that I see listed under the weapons page;

They have:
1. No listed exceptions
2. This ability can only be placed on a melee weapon.
3. This special ability can only be placed on a ranged weapon.
4. A more restrictive variant (thrown only or slashing only, etc)

If you're correct then, there aren't any "melee weapon special abilities" left that the amulet could be referring to. Just the ones that also work for bows, etc.


ahem...I can assure you that u can put Furious on the AoMF (and yes...a +5 enhancement bonus WILL overcome a lot of damage reduction). As for the final three rage powers, u can always choose to get Improved Damage reduction if you like (again, not sure if this is the strongest option, but it defnitely is a solid one)


An interesting note on this type of build is that, if you wish to, you can always trade in a claw attack for a shield, up to 7 points more ac could be helpful at high levels.


I would respectfully say that any Barbarian after level 4 or 5 probably doesn't need to concern themselves with armor or a shield. I say this because, in the long run, AC honestly won't really matter.

Considering how a Barbarian already has a -2 penalty whenever they rage, it only gets worse if they select rage powers like reckless abandon or come and get me. Besides, the extra attacks from the claws help to dish out some serious punching power...and as they always say...The best defense is a strong offense.


I saw the insanely low BAB from using all that TWF with natural attacks. One word though: Multiattack.

This is a monster feat, but since rangers can get it, it should be kosher. Basically, TWF for natural weapons, the only requirement is 3 natural attacks. In return they all have only a -2 to the full BAB of your secondary natural attacks. This whole process DOES NOT AFFECT MANUFACTURED WEAPONS You get your whole iterative with them. You need an manufactured weapon to make all this work though, since just unarmed will lead to the whole TWF thing. But not to go against your character concept, maybe try to get a foot version of gauntlet. Greaves basically. I think you can argue for it being manufactured. Still need Improved Unarmed Strike though. Or maybe one of those tail attached weapons (racial heritage Kobold + tail terror?), or even go strix, fly, and use blade boots (would go well with TWF feat, since they are always offhand).

Now, the 3 natural attacks does not necessarily mean Tengu specifically, since I believe if you just use the rage powers to get to three, it should not be a problem, since you can reliably get the claws&etc. The feat would simply be off when you are not raging. Maybe go for a tiefling Maw though, just because it is better than the rage power bite and you will get claws anyway for the whole beast totem.

Assuming some kind of greave, and ignoring TWF entirely (thus only one leg), you get something like this:
Kick (BAB 20), Kick (BAB 15), Kick (BAB 10), Kick (BAB 5)
AND Bite (BAB 18), Claw (BAB 18), Claw (BAB 18).

You can get TWF with all those spare feats you had to get more, I guess. Not sure if it is worth it though after the first extra attack though.

I might sound a bit angry here, but this is mostly excitement, since I was working on something similar and this filled in a lot of blanks for me. So, excited mostly. Anyway, this idea is based largely on a bit of a liberal GM. The strix thing might work well with a rule lawyer though.


well, for starters, I honestly wouldn't worry about multiattack. To be completely fair, the penalties for TWF really aren't THAT bad (at least, not when compared to any other Two-weapon fighter).

There's a couple of reasons why you DON'T want gauntlets, and also why you shouldn't worry about the penalties. Allow me to explain:

1) You have to enchant the gauntlet, which is sorta pointless since AoMF can pretty much give you everything you need.

2) For roughly 9,000 gp, you can get a grand total of +4 to hit and damage with unarmed strikes, and a +2 to hit for natural attacks when raging (not counting your Strength modifier). This mainly comes from 2 purchases- Brawling armor and a Furious Amulet of Mighty Fists. By the time you reach 5th level (which is when you'll start mixing up your unarmed strikes with natural attacks) you should easily be able to purchase these items (and probably even more).

3) Before 5th level, you are mainly going to rely on getting on making attacks with your two-handed weapon (I recommend the 'Nodachi', since it is probably the best two-handed weapon a barbarian can have), or with your claw attacks (and trust me, having 2 claw attacks at low level that use your full BAB and full STR mod is REALLY useful).

typically, the problem with 'tooth and nail' builds is that they typically lose strength as you progress in level. However, with the build I suggested, you actually continue to scale up very nicely by simply figuring out what magic items to get, and how to properly combine your feats.


Yeah. Most of the builds I thought of were rogue focused. I'll admit, I was mostly banking on just getting hits in and relying on Sneak attack rather having actually good hits themselves. Plus I probably over reacted since the whole "two weapon unarmed" thing was a bit strange.

Still, it is an option, since it can cut out a lot of feats associated with TWF and had better attack bonuses on average. A barbarian is very STR focused, so he will not worry to much about connecting his hits, I guess.

The Strix with blade boots suggestion seemed interesting with it. Sure, more cost with enchantments when you add in the weapons, but you could get them with the special materials to get around DR that are one of the main reason for the AoMF. Because admit it....you can buy a permanency with Greater Magic Fang for about 9,000 based on costs and fees for hiring a magic user. More danger of being dispelled, but much cheaper. But nothing for DR other than magic. A manufactured weapon through in relies less on implied enchantment with the costs. Oh, I agree that is a better method, but it is harder to argue for than some of my set up.But again, I am probably to used to rogues and their low strength bonuses.

I sorry if I got over excited, running on fumes right now.


Instead of buying the ring for the bite attack, could you just use the trait 'tusked' by being adopted by orcs, if there is a better ring that might be worn(which i'm sure there must be something)?


You could also just work in the 'animal fury' rage power (I'd probably aim to take it rather early, maybe level 4, and then just combine it with my claw attacks...which will pretty much net me 3 primary natural attacks at level 4, which is very respectable).

Liberty's Edge

Duskblade wrote:
You could also just work in the 'animal fury' rage power (I'd probably aim to take it rather early, maybe level 4, and then just combine it with my claw attacks...which will pretty much net me 3 primary natural attacks at level 4, which is very respectable).
Am I reading this wrong? When I read 'Animal Fury' it seems to imply that the bite is a secondary attack.
PRD wrote:
Animal Fury (Ex): While raging, the barbarian gains a bite attack. If used as part of a full attack action, the bite attack is made at the barbarian's full base attack bonus –5. If the bite hits, it deals 1d4 points of damage (assuming the barbarian is Medium; 1d3 points of damage if Small) plus half the barbarian's Strength modifier. A barbarian can make a bite attack as part of the action to maintain or break free from a grapple. This attack is resolved before the grapple check is made. If the bite attack hits, any grapple checks made by the barbarian against the target this round are at a +2 bonus.

Liberty's Edge

Is the 'Animal Fury' a 'primary attack' if I make it a part of a full attack with my claws? (ie: claw, claw, bite)
Therefore attacking at my full BAB and doing my full STR bonus damage?

If I make the 'Animal Fury' bite attack as a single attack (like in a round where I've taken a move action) do I deal 1.5x STR bonus damage?

These rules seem a little fuzzy ... it seems like I can deal:

  • Bite+0.5xSTR as a secondary attack when part of a full attack using 'normal' melee weapons.
  • Bite+1.0xSTR as a primary attack when part of a full attack using natural weapons.
  • Bite+1.5xSTR as a primary attack when attacking with the bite alone.

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