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Here is a very tricky question about a build; I want to play multiple animal companions and for some reason people tell me that it can't be done.

I'm looking at the Hunter. The hunter’s effective druid level is equal to her hunter level. My understanding is that if a character receives an animal companion from more than one source, her effective druid levels stack for the purposes of determining the companion’s statistics and abilities.

The key here is "more than one source" so I'm getting 1 companion at early game, my big cat. The second companion I'm planning to get is a magical beast (to be chosen) at or after 7th level with the feat Beast Speaker.

Beast Speaker

You have trained in the ways that the beast speakers of the Tekritani once used to ally themselves with magical beasts.
Prerequisites: Handle Animal 7 ranks, animal companion with effective druid level 7.
Benefit: You can select a creature from the list of magical beasts to serve as your animal companion. You acquire and advance this beast companion in the same way as an animal companion detailed in the class feature that grants you access to your animal companion. You can also dismiss the creature, as dictated by your class feature.
You must meet additional prerequisites to select a companion with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher, as described in each creature’s entry.

For example, if I chose a basilisk,

  1. Can I keep my big cat with the basilisk?

  2. Can I have a third companion (big cat + basilisk + another) at level 20 with the alternate Hunter capstone Huntmaster?

Huntmaster (Ex) At 20th level, the hunter learns to control all manner of beasts. The hunter gains a second animal companion. Her level is considered four lower for the purposes of her second animal companion. The hunter can use her animal focus feature to grant each animal companion a different animal aspect.

  1. Does this pet follow the "stack wording rule"? My level 1 feature states that they stack with my druid level; does this override the -4 penalty level from Huntmaster level 20 capstone?

To elaborate more a Beast Master Ranger can keep multiple companions with its base class but they get -3 druid level on their ranger base level for the purpose of animal companion levels, also they SHARE the levels so a beast master ranger level 5 can have 1 pet level 2 or 2 pets level 1.

A beast master forms a close bond with an animal companion. This ability functions like the druid animal companion ability except that the ranger’s effective druid level is equal to his ranger level – 3. The ranger gains a +2 bonus on wild empathy and Handle Animal checks made regarding his animal companion. Unlike a normal ranger, a beast master’s choice of animal companion is not limited to a subset of all possible animal companion choices—he may choose freely among all animal companion choices, just as a druid can.
The beast master may have more than one animal companion, but he must divide up his effective druid level between his companions to determine the abilities of each companion.
For example, a beast master with an effective druid level of 4 can have one 4th-level companion, two 2nd-level companions, or one 1st-level and one 3rd-level companion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify who is saying you are unable to get a second animal companion? That type of choice is solely between you and the GM (and occasionally the rest of your gaming group) because it is generally true that you only get one, but there are ways that isn't true; some GM's may disallow multiple companions for various reasons, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 20 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I made some formatting and readability changes, but I tried to keep the content the same. You can re-edit or even rollback my edits if you feel they've changed the question too much. \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Sep 20 at 17:22
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What you describe

  1. No. The Beast Speaker feat does not add a second animal companion. It extends the list that you can choose to include certain Magical Beast. Specifically,

Benefit: You can select a creature from the list of magical beasts to serve as your animal companion.

Not as another animal companion, or as a Cohort (which also doesn't do what you want). As your animal companion, replacing the big cat that you have.

  1. You can maintain a second animal companion (or magical beast with Beast Speaker) at level 20 with the ability noted.

  2. The level for this second Companion is at -4 (unless you take Boon Companion for them). This is because of how Pathfinder's rules are written; there are a lot of General Rules, some more Specific, and more Specific... until all of the exceptions have been made. When deciding which rule to follow, you follow the most specific one that makes sense. In this case, there is the Animal Companion class feature that does what it does. Then the Hunter gets a specific option to choose an alternate class feature that adds a second Companion at -4 levels, which is itself an exception to the animal companion class feature. There are no other levels to stack with, you are just using your Hunter level -4.

Side note: The Ranger archetype has absolutely nothing to do with the Hunter's animal companion(s) and should not be used for guidance on rules unless you make a Ranger or the GM wishes to work with you on some homebrew solution.

What you want

There are a few way ways to gain multiple Animal Companions, from the terribly written 3rd party feat Additional Animal Companion to the Hunter, Druid, and Ranger archetypes. It is generally not recommended that you stack Animal Companions, even in the rules-legal way mentioned in their FAQ.

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When the rules for the Hunter's animal companion say

If a character receives an animal companion from more than one source, her effective druid levels stack for the purposes of determining the companion’s statistics and abilities.

they mean that instead of getting a second animal companion, your levels stack to determine the abilities of your first animal companion. For example, say your character has 6 levels in Hunter and 4 levels in Druid. Instead of having one 6th level companion and one 4th level companion, you get one 10th level companion.

If you take the Beast Speaker feat, you don't gain a second companion - instead, the Basilisk would replace your original companion.

The Huntmaster capstone ability would grant you a second companion, with a -4 effective druid level. That means you would have one 20th level companion and one 16th level companion. There are also archetypes that grant multiple companions, including:

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