Using Beta and every web document I could get my hands on, I managed to restart my Rise of the Runelords campaign.
Having only three characters, the arcane lost out as 'least needed coverage area'. The players decided on a lean, mean, aggressive party build. Character generation bogged down at that point, as the players familiarized themselves with Golarion (but showed little interest in Sandpoint, none of them being locals).
Elf/Taldan Rogue (Travelling scholar, decided against BARD)
Ulfen Fighter (Still looking for a unique one handed axe)
Orc/Chelaxian Paladin (Of Iomedae, player still learning about her)
The group, for it's aggressive build, rapidly went about roleplaying in the town. In fact, we haven't reached the Swallowtail festival yet. In spite of this, the players enjoyed themselves, and a good deal of roleplaying XP was earned.
Among the sins, Greed took the lead, with a bit of Wrath and minor smatterings of the other sins. Envy, Lust, and Gluttony were the only ones absent. (I don't really know how to measure Envy, and my players ALWAYS assert noble intentions of their PCs.)
Players found the races balanced, but had trouble choosing between the literally dozens of identical human cultures. (With the exception of the half-orc, who finds it appealing that he doesn't have to be a drow to be the righteous member rebelling against his evil society!)
I needed to print out copies of the equipment list from Beta and needed to create a list of rumors for PCs to overhear. Otherwise, the game was a huge success; I'm looking forward to how the Ulfen reacts to the goblin warchant (although I expect she'll take it akin to a personal challenge).
None of my players were locals but they came up with some good reasons for being in Sandpoint.
The human cleric of Kurgess heard about the swallowtail festival and thought it would be a good idea to attend so he could bring games of competition.
The Tian rogue was just passing through, after fleeing his homeland for some unmentioned slight
The half orc barbarian was down on his luck and passing through and landed up working for the glassworks factory hauling lime/ash. We started the campaign with him having lived in Sandpoint for the previous year.
The Cheliaxian sorcerer (who is 6'4" and 300lbs, 20 strength!) was also in town after leaving Korvosa. Down on his luck, he also found employment working in the quarry with the 1/2 orc.
The campaign started with the sorcerer and barbarian knowing one another. The cleric and rogue were introduced during the initial assault on the town.
We just finished up Burnt Offerings and starting The Skinsaw Murders tonight
I'm in a young RotRL group too.
Cleric, rogue, monk, wizard, druid, and my paladin. Our cleric player left the group, and since the druid didn't want to become a cheap imitation heal-bot, we added an NPC cleric to fill in.
We have already had two battles where our DM was obviously cheating in our favor, faking die rolls, fumbling every third attack, retreating when he had a clear victory, etc. Anything he could do to prevent a TPK. This has happened twice.
In addition, I'm pretty sure there were a couple other fights where a little fudging was likely going on to save us, though I'm not positive. Maybe he was just having bad luck.
Now I know our DM tweaked up the difficulty a bit to compensate for our large group of 6 PCs.
But I'm worried about a 3-character group like yours.
The monsters and bad guys in this AP seem pretty brutal for a lowbie group.
Especially a group with no spell power. None. Eventually that paladin will get a few crummy spells, but he'll never fill the role of either cleric or mage with his limited spellcasting ability.
You have no healer.
I hope at least your paladin will find himself a wand of Cure Light Wounds in the first encounter, or this group is going to have troubles.
On the other hand, assuming you're tweaking down the difficulty a bit, they should be able to wipe out many encounters quickly with all their offense, and hopefully won't need much healing.
I strongly advise you to consider the difficulty of the battles in this adventure (true, I have only see the upgraded battles, so I don't really know what they look like in the actual unchanged text as printed).
But from what I've seen so far, this AP looks like it will likely mop the floor with a 3-man no-healer no-spellcaster group.
I also have my fears, but I've already warned the group that I won't be pulling any punches. What I *am* doing is mixing in elements from other campaigns so the party gets lots of XP. And there's no shortage of roleplaying events and skill challenges, which should also help them. My concern is that crossbows won't do diddly against Karzoug at the end. Hm... I think I'll let them fight a lesser mage using similar tactics first.
But as for doctoring the treasure? Unlikely. Might the paladin receive such a treasure once his reports to the Magnimaran church of Iomedae? Absolutely.
In general, I'm caught between utter dread and belief that this group of players is sneaky enough to defeat the adventure handily. Time will tell. As mentioned, the group IS heavily role-playing, so there will be time for the players to come up with ideas, like hiring NPCs (or taking Leadership feat) to fill gaps in the party.
I ran a group with a paladin, druid, rogue/wizard and wizard.
The druid cast maybe two cure spells...otherwise the paladin handled group healing. My group didn't play in a very optimized manner, and I usually still ended up adding a few extra gobbos in to keep them from being bored. :)
As long as the paladin has a high charisma, your group has a good chance.