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So, under normal circumstances, the general consensus is that a creature granted by Improved Familiar does not qualify for the Mauler archetype, because of these two lines:

Mauler

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

Improved Familiar

improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind

The logic here being that if the familiar never gains the ability then the archetype can't replace it, thus the creature does not qualify for the archetype. Okay, fine.

So, what about a witch with a patron familiar for animal patron?

The familiar gains the ability to speak with animals of its kind at 1st level.

Does this now allow an improved familiar to qualify for the Mauler archetype?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've not yet reached a conclusion on this, but I must ask Is it wise, mighty witch, to send your spellbook off to attack your enemies? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 1 '17 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is if you're just dipping a level of Witch to be able to have an Improved Mauler. There are other ways to get an Improved Mauler, but Wasp Familiar is not PFS legal, unfortunately, and I'm trying to avoid Magical Child Vigilante for the moment. \$\endgroup\$ – BRW Aug 1 '17 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough. I'm not sure how the witch gets from a patron familiar that "acts in all ways like a standard witch’s familiar, with the addition of the special ability indicated below according to the witch’s patron" to an Improved Familiar that keeps the patron familiar's abilities. But I guess that's kind of the question though, ain't it? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 1 '17 at 19:31
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The mauler/improved familiar case is already covered in the description of Animal Speaker :

Animal Speaker (Su)

The familiar gains the ability to speak with animals of its kind at 1st level.

If it would normally gain this ability at 7th level, the familiar gains the ability to speak with all animals (as though constantly under the effects of speak with animals) at 7th level.

Emphasis mine : a familiar that naturally gains speak with animals of its kind at 7th level gains an improved version of this ability at this level, the same way multiclassing in two classes with uncanny dodge gives you access to improved uncanny dodge immediately.

This instance of speak with animals of its kind given by Animal Speaker isn't part of the natural progression of familiar abilities and thus isn't affected by the mauler archetype and Improved Familiar. It's better to consider it as an extra ability added to your familiar's other abilities.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can this answer be reconciled with the part of the patron familiar description that says that "a witch can gain a patron familiar by choosing one at 1st level in place of her standard familiar. A patron familiar acts in all ways like a standard witch’s familiar, with the addition of the special ability indicated below according to the witch’s patron" (emphasis mine)? That is, it seems that a witch that trades away his standard familiar for an improved familiar no longer has a standard familiar to which the witch can apply the patron familiar benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 2 '17 at 14:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ It sounds like you're saying the creature would gain the ability, which could then be traded away. Is this accurate? \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Aug 3 '17 at 1:55

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