You can gain the first few levels quickly with the beginner quests with minimal grind, and build a character strong enough for the later grinding type quests.
NOW WITH LESS SPOILERS
At the start, after having talked to Mikhael, check the container at the bottom right corner of the room for some fine cloths. Equip them and the Wooden club. Go out, kill the tiny rats, talk to Gorwath, go to the inn and get bread. Sell your apples and buy all bread, and later on keep buying bread, that’s the cheapest health item you can get around here. Also talk to everyone and get the quests. Also talk to Halvor and get his quest.
Go back home, give Mikhael the bread and tell him that you killed the rats. You will get a really nice reward for the rats, it's useful for long in the game, I usually don't replace it until I get either to Stoutford or to Brimheaven.
You also probably gain your first level with the XP gained from these quests. Increase your damage with the first level up! Then keep increasing AD with most of your first levels, with an ocasional level to AC and HP. Don’t spend any levels on BC for now, those 3 points make a negligable difference, while +1 AD makes a significant differecne.
When you reach level 4 you will get your first skill point. DON’T SPEND IT! Wait for one more level, and then you can get Increased Fortitude. That is simply the best option to spend the first skill point, and it has great effect on the later game. I’ll write more on skills later.
Next go to the blacksmith, sell your Canvas shirt and Wooden club and buy that conviniently priced 1 GP hatchet. It’s not a good weapon but works against wasps, ants and rats, and is much better than that wooden club. And it’s as cheap as it gets.
Go to the southern part of the village where there are some ants in a path in the woods. You’ll meet Oromir and get a quest. An easy quest with good rewards. It’s the first of many quests where you have to pick sides. Depending on your choice you can get either a little more XP or a nice item as a reward. The latter definetly worths it more.
You can also buy Fine green cap in the tavern for an affordable price.
Now that you are geared up, you can go for your first dungeon, the rat cave. Go to the NE part of the village with the wasps, and up north you will find Odair to get the quest. Rest if you need to and venture into the cave with full health. Use bread when you get hurt, and you should be able to wipe out the whole cave in one go. (If not, then keep trying.) When you slay the giant rat you get a better weapon. Equip it but don’t grow too fond of it. With this loot and Odair's reward you can go to the blacksmith and sell the sword and the hatchet and any unnecessery stuff you may have, and you should have enough gold to buy the Reinforced iron longsword. That’s the best weapon you can get early in the game, so use it!
Now you may go back to the rat cave to farm rat tails for the relevant quest, venture out to the south to kill snakes for meat and venom glands, or venture out to the east to kill wasps for insect wings and puppies for meat. Always hunt for puppies when you get nearby them, even at higher levels, becouse they are an easy prey and give meat! You may also go to Fallheaven and discover it, look for Gorwath’s girl, talk to everyone, get quests, etc. Altrough the only quest you can complete at this level will be the one involving a book and the one with the love letter. With those completed and the "animal parts collector" have been sent away, you should be now at level 6. You also should have enough money to buy the Challenger’s ring in the Crossglen inn. Recommended.
And with that you are trough the easy part. Now every quests you have involves grinding, and against enemies that are kind of tough at this level. You can go hunt snakes and furry animals (boars, foxes, etc.) for potion ingredients, slay skelotons in a haunted house for another potion ingredients, or clear the catacombs for a certain key. And then there is the mourning soldier near the hole who wants you to clear that dungeon (it’s tough but there is a very good reward in it), and the adventurer who wants you to clear the snake cave. Probably the best idea is to get the antidote first, so that you can consume meat without worry. Raw meat and bread will be your main scource of health in this game.
After these quests the rest comes quite steadily and there is no further need for a step by step guide. While outdoors, always hunt for weaker wild animals for meat (and for XP of course). For armor upgrades, look for stuff with Damage Resistance, it is very useful early in game!
And now for the tips and tricks:
- When you have some 2000 Gp, venture far north to Brimheaven! You have to go north of the Crossroads guardhouse, go trough Loneford, keep going east trough the woods. Avoid the monsters, they are too tough for your level! In Brimheaven you’ll find a textile workshop where they improve the cap for you for about 1500, and it will have +1 DR. Very useful. While you are there, you can also get a Parrying dagger, wich is one of the best "shields" in the game. (It costs some 1700 Gp, so maybe you want to bring more than 2000 with you.)
- In the thieves’ den you will get the
-„Feygard’s errands”: you get this quest in the
- In Loneford when solving the mistery of the illness, if you side with Feygard,
- In the Vilegard quest where you are tasked to
- The Gardener’s gloves you can get in the
- In Brimheaven in the Basilisk mission you can either
- In Brimheaven in the Lessons learned quest you can
(It is also the cave where you can grind for the
This topic generates hot debates on this forum, so „this is just, like, my opinion, man!”
Be aware that you only get one skill point every 4 levels, so every single SP counts!
My preferred strategy:
IF at lvl 5 (that’s standard, almost everyone agrees with this); Regen at lvl 8; nothing at 12; Combat Speed at 15; nothing at 16; IF 2 and Regen 2 at lvl 20; nothing at 24 and 28; Combat Speed 2 at 30.
Then at 32: you have 2 free SP to choose a fighting style. My recommendation is Dual wield: you can have lots and lots of different combination of weapons to find what suits you best. Later on you may also pick Two handed fighting style – even though pretty much the only good two handed weapon in the game is the
I don’t recommend getting Dual wield specialization, it doesn’t worth it. Also don’t recommend the Weapon and shield fighting style. For a chellenge you may try the Way of the monk. It really is a chellenge in the current state of the game. The Unarmed and Unarmored skills you can get at Charwood are essential for it.
As for other skills after lvl 32 I think by then you’ll be able to figure for yourself what suits you the best.