Improved Familiars and the Mauler archetype


Rules Questions


3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Here's one of the Mauler familiar's qualities:

Familiar Folio wrote:
Increased Strength (Ex): At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, a mauler’s Strength score increases by 1. As a result of this ability, the familiar’s Intelligence score remains 6; a mauler can never have an Intelligence score higher than 6.

Emphasis mine

This... is considering that most regular familiars are animals that have Int 1 or 2... but what about familiars that you can obtain with the Improved Familiar feat? Many of them have an Int score higher than 6... so... do they get dumber??? or does their Int score remain the same if it's 7 or higher?

Does your Shadow Drake, Faerie Dragon or Pseudodragon get an Int score of 6?


Can't take Mauler with Improved Familiar.

"This ability replaces speak with master and speak with animals of its kind."

"and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate)."


Bob Bob Bob wrote:

Can't take Mauler with Improved Familiar.

"This ability replaces speak with master and speak with animals of its kind."

"and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate)."

Oh... bummer...

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Meh. I'd allow it.

I know, I know, Rules Questions forum.

Let me have this. I already made my spirit binder villain with his girlfriend-turned-sexy-quasit.

Are there any ways to re-access speak with animals?


It remains vague as to whether the two can combine. The RAW is that archetypes which replace or alter the same feature can't stack, but Improved Familiar isn't an archetype, it's a PC feat which happens to modify the familiar's class features. Given that, and lacking an official response, I lean more towards the spirit of the rulings on the Charger animal companion archetype, where Cavalier mounts being left out of the cavalier-specific archetype was an oversight and the devs encouraged switching the replaced features around to allow for it.

Given that Familiar Folio isn't a main line book, there's not likely to be an FAQ or errata in the foreseeable future, sadly.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

There is also a feat that can give a familiar speak with animals of kind in the same book. That being said there is no way I would allow an improved familiar brawler.

The ban hammer comes down on immortal forever fighting strength 24 Nycars

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I really just want the opportunity to Medium size my familiar. It's everything I ever wanted out of summoner, but could never have because eidolons can only be absurd, overly-generic beatsticks. :(

Really looking forward to Unchained, though.


Mahtobedis wrote:

There is also a feat that can give a familiar speak with animals of kind in the same book. That being said there is no way I would allow an improved familiar brawler.

The ban hammer comes down on immortal forever fighting strength 24 Nycars

20 Str. +1 from the maulers ability, +2 for battle form and +4 for going from tiny to medium.

Yes, that's it. Just +4. You don't use monster advancement, you use polymorph advancement. The writer of the book confirmed this. He also confirmed that the improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

I realize that's not a "ruling", but that is probably the best you'll get.

Now, the Nycar is pretty good for an improved familiar, but animal companions are vastly better.

I suppose you ban those too?

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Shane LeRose wrote:

Yes, that's it. Just +4. You don't use monster advancement, you use polymorph advancement. The writer of the book confirmed this. He also confirmed that the improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

As the freelancer in question, I can assure that I did not confirm that improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Shane LeRose wrote:
Mahtobedis wrote:

There is also a feat that can give a familiar speak with animals of kind in the same book. That being said there is no way I would allow an improved familiar brawler.

The ban hammer comes down on immortal forever fighting strength 24 Nycars

20 Str. +1 from the maulers ability, +2 for battle form and +4 for going from tiny to medium.

Yes, that's it. Just +4. You don't use monster advancement, you use polymorph advancement. The writer of the book confirmed this. He also confirmed that the improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

I realize that's not a "ruling", but that is probably the best you'll get.

Now, the Nycar is pretty good for an improved familiar, but animal companions are vastly better.

I suppose you ban those too?

Animal companions don't have regeneration and the ability to keep fighting at negative HP. Nor are animal companions in an area of the rules that are incredibly iffy and ill defined.

Edit you forgot +4 enhancement bonus for a belt.


Familiar archetypes work like class archetypes. (it states this at the top of the section in, for example, Animal Archive)

Thus, you have to have the base ability in order to swap it out. Even if you gain the ability from another source, it doesn't count... it has to be in its natural, original form for you to be able to swap it out.

Thus, sadly, you can't obtain a Mauler Improved Familiar. (which is admittedly probably a good thing, considering how powerful it'd be)

Lantern Lodge

Dang, smack down by the author!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Check the familiar folio again, specifically Patron Familiars for Witches with the Animal Patron. They gain Speak with Animals - and as such would let an Improved Familiar qualify for the Mauler archetype :)

Scroll down a bit to see the Animal Patron.

(Note that this ability is gained at first level, so only a dip of the witch is required)

Paizo Employee Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Byakko wrote:

Familiar archetypes work like class archetypes. (it states this at the top of the section in, for example, Animal Archive)

Thus, you have to have the base ability in order to swap it out. Even if you gain the ability from another source, it doesn't count... it has to be in its natural, original form for you to be able to swap it out.

Thus, sadly, you can't obtain a Mauler Improved Familiar. (which is admittedly probably a good thing, considering how powerful it'd be)

As far as I can tell, that's correct, Byakko (and also the case that since both abilities modify SwAoiC, they likely wouldn't be takeable together anyway). It's also why Animal Patron witch wouldn't do it, it would seem (well that and, part and parcel of why archetypes don't allow stacking if they both modify the same feature, ambiguous order of operations).


If you really want a combat familiar you can technically utilize a combo of diabolist and improved familiar since the imp companion does not have the rules which exempt it from becoming a familiar, it only progresses as an animal companion but dies nit count as one, this means that it also cmant be used with things such as animal aspect and whatnot, but you could in theory combine it with spirit binder summoner and the mammoth or nature spirits from shaman, make it a witch familiar or a wizard familiar, or use it with beast bond witch to combine it with an animal companion that you've leveled through feats, thus allowing it to benefit from animal companion abilities.......

Or eldrich fighter for the feats... Last i checked imps can be archers.....

Ill just be on my way to hell now


Mark Seifter wrote:
As far as I can tell, that's correct, Byakko (and also the case that since both abilities modify SwAoiC, they likely wouldn't be takeable together anyway). It's also why Animal Patron witch wouldn't do it, it would seem (well that and, part and parcel of why archetypes don't allow stacking if they both modify the same feature, ambiguous order of operations).

I think* that the Patron Familiar is actually a Witch, not a familiar, archetype that alters the Familiar and Patron (Spells) class features. Thus we have a Witch Archetype, a Feat and a Familiar Archetype - none which conflicts with eachother :)

*I do not have access to my books at the moment, so I cannot check for sure


Lessah wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
As far as I can tell, that's correct, Byakko (and also the case that since both abilities modify SwAoiC, they likely wouldn't be takeable together anyway). It's also why Animal Patron witch wouldn't do it, it would seem (well that and, part and parcel of why archetypes don't allow stacking if they both modify the same feature, ambiguous order of operations).

I think* that the Patron Familiar is actually a Witch, not a familiar, archetype that alters the Familiar and Patron (Spells) class features. Thus we have a Witch Archetype, a Feat and a Familiar Archetype - none which conflicts with eachother :)

*I do not have access to my books at the moment, so I cannot check for sure

But using thr quigon monk archetype for guidance, id have to say they wouldn't stack


Mark Seifter wrote:
Shane LeRose wrote:

Yes, that's it. Just +4. You don't use monster advancement, you use polymorph advancement. The writer of the book confirmed this. He also confirmed that the improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

As the freelancer in question, I can assure that I did not confirm that improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

My apologies. I should've just quoted the relevant text instead of going from memory.

So what is your stance then?

Grand Lodge

Shane LeRose wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Shane LeRose wrote:

Yes, that's it. Just +4. You don't use monster advancement, you use polymorph advancement. The writer of the book confirmed this. He also confirmed that the improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

As the freelancer in question, I can assure that I did not confirm that improved familiars should be usable with the archetypes.

My apologies. I should've just quoted the relevant text instead of going from memory.

So what is your stance then?

His stance from the other thread was "Improved Familiars are good enough as is, without allowing them access to most of the archetypes." (This is paraphrased, of course.)


If you took a feat that said "you can never channel energy" would that mean you couldn't take levels of cleric that traded your channel energy away? If there was a race that had "can't cast divine spells" could they not take the trapper archetype ranger?

I feel like this situation is similar. The Improved familiar's "base class" is still the base familiar. Not having talk with animals is the effect of being an improved familiar, not a change to the familiar's base class.

Now, to argue both sides of the argument, it's entirely possible that improved familiars get their own "improved familiar class", which is the same as the normal one, except that thing missing, but this is not implied from the wording of the feat.

Improved familiars are good. But mauler makes familiars good at fighting, something not even improved familiars excel at, and making it mutually exclusive with mauler, when both options have a cost, feels needlessly restrictive. I think IF should have been taken into account when designing mauler so that IF would have been a sidegrade instead of an upgrade to the mauler's combat abilities (for example, by giving the mauler a set base STR and increases, like normal familiars get for their INT, instead of giving them the transform, which makes the base animal's STR important, hence nycars).


LoneKnave, if you took a feat that said "you can never channel energy", you could take levels of cleric, but would be unable to use your channel ability despite still having it as a class feature. It'd actually be wise to swap out the ability to an archetype.

Instead, imagine you take a paladin archetype that causes you to lose Lay On Hands. You then take a feat or acquire a magic item that gives you the ability to use Lay On Hands. Can you then take a second paladin archetype that requires you to give up Lay on Hands?

The answer is no. Even though you have acquired the ability to use Lay on Hands again, this doesn't count as having it in its original unaltered form. Thus you can't take the hypothetical second archetype.

The same situation is occurring here in regards to familiars.


But Improved familiar is not an archetype. What you are describing is if someone took an archetype that replaced Speak with animals, then took the animals patron of the witch to get it back, then tried to get a second archetype. That's not what is happening.


I see it as the familiar is a wizard class feature plus all the features which benefit both so even though speak with animals of it's kind is only for the familiar it would be an extension of the wizard class feature as a whole. So I think the two wouldn't work together the same feature is being replaced. I wish they did though. If this makes any sense.

I would just take improved familiar and give it magic items to use.


Improved familiar may not be an archetype, but those familiars don't have speak with animals to lose for the archetype.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Improved familiar may not be an archetype, but those familiars don't have speak with animals to lose for the archetype.

What about in the case of Demonic apostle clerics who explicitly get a quasit familiar without taking improved familiar? I think there are a couple other archetypes that give specific familiars off the improved familiar list without needing the feat? would those archetypes be able to benefit from the familiar archetypes that improved familiar prevents?


Chess Pwn wrote:
Improved familiar may not be an archetype, but those familiars don't have speak with animals to lose for the archetype.

How about the Zoog, which does have speak with animals?


Avadriel wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Improved familiar may not be an archetype, but those familiars don't have speak with animals to lose for the archetype.
What about in the case of Demonic apostle clerics who explicitly get a quasit familiar without taking improved familiar? I think there are a couple other archetypes that give specific familiars off the improved familiar list without needing the feat? would those archetypes be able to benefit from the familiar archetypes that improved familiar prevents?

"At 7th level, the demonic apostle exchanges her familiar for a quasit without the need to take the Improved Familiar feat."

She may not need to take the feat, but the Demonic Apostle is still gaining an Improved Familiar, which loses Speak with Animals of Its Kind.

However, if you do find a way to gain an unusual familiar, which makes no reference to the Improved Familiar ability, then it could work...

FallzQuick wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Improved familiar may not be an archetype, but those familiars don't have speak with animals to lose for the archetype.
How about the Zoog, which does have speak with animals?

Close, but no cigar.

It has to be "speak with animals of its kind", not Zoog's "speak with animals".

Btw, even if the Zoog had the correct ability, it still wouldn't work. The ability you swap out for the archetype has to be the one granted by being a familiar.

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