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the wolf might be a humanoid polymorphed and erased of his memories by a great wizard
A funny thing happened when my players' party raided Thistletop. The party paladin had some entertaining interaction with the warhorse that is imprisoned on the island. I portrayed the horse as somewhat deranged and very, very angry, given its handling at the hands of the goblins. Well, the paladin kept trying to Handle Animal it into calm.
Well, the party dealt with the goblins and then started to head back to town. That's when they were confronted with the rope bridge. Plenty of hilarity ensued as the group started with "how the heck did the goblins get this horse across that?!?" and ended with "how the heck do WE get this horse across that?!?"
The party crossed one by one, and then the paladin tried to lead the horse. Snap. Rope broke. The paladin made his save to grab on and not fall to his death. I figured... fair is fair, so I gave the horse a Reflex save for similar.
Natural 20. The gods have spoken.
So I described this wild-eyed, angry horse that was gripping the remaining rope in its teeth, hanging in space, thrashing madly. I won't bore you with the details, but a few amazingly unlikely rolls later, the entire party - horse included - made it back to the mainland.
They sold the demented horse off... it was kind of unhinged and somewhat hostile. But it became a recurring story the heroes would tell, of this amazing climbing horse.
Much later, they were approached by a Sandpoint NPC, who asked them to buy back the horse. It had thrown and harmed everyone who had tried to buy it, and it was hurting his business. They agreed, unsure what to do about the problem they'd had a hand in creating, but unwilling to make the horseman NPC suffer. That was just as they hit 5th. And the paladin's player realized what I was doing just a hair too late.
Yup. "The horse" became his paladin mount.
I statted him up and kept some things secret from the player (with permission). The horse (still a bit mental) was never friendly, but it demonstrated clear intelligence, even drawing Iomedae's holy symbol in dirt once. I did all this to justify how that natural 20 and subsequent Climb checks could possibly have made sense.
Eventually they got a magic item to allow speak with animals and had a brief conversation, because it turned out the horse was just generally a surly person.
The tale was told, that the horse was actually a man, who was the sole survivor of a party of adventurers who were obliterated by <<see spoiler>>. The horse was going to be baleful polymorphed but Iomedae clearly intervened, altering the magic so he wasn't made into a bunny, but rather a powerful stallion, able to get away.
They've dealt with the mage since, and the horse continues to serve. Mechanically he's as a druid animal companion with one level of fighter. Type: humanoid (polymorphed human). Hasn't been a balance problem for me.
Final note for fun's sake... they asked him if he'd like to be turned back into a man and he ultimately declined, noting that "once you get used to <blank>ing horses, it's not so bad a life."