Archers shoot arrows from bows -- what else did you think they'd do? Well, they cast spells, too. They can cast basic spells from the elemental schools of magic. They have sharp eyes and thus, they can spot things from afar, and are thus at finding traps and secret passages.
Archers excel at the Bow. They can grandmaster it, as well as Chain. As a secondary weapon, the Spear is a good choice since it is the only weapon other than the Bow that they can master. They are the only class that can master Perception and should thus get it as soon as possible. Otherwise they should only concentrate on Learning, since they can master it.
Archers should begin with an unnaturally high Intelligence, Accuracy and Speed. A high Might and Endurance is nice, but the other two abilities are not that necessary.
Clerics are the devout of the gods. They call down their deity's magic to heal humanity's woes. They also command several destructive spells, mostly towards the undead. They are invaluable to the party, due to their ability to heal both physical damage and abnormal conditions, like poison and disease.
The cleric's strength is their healing magic. They should obtain up to grandmaster level in all three of their magical disciplines to insure that they get all the spells. The grandmaster in the Merchant skill is a good idea - it'll save you a lot of money when buying spells. Mastery of the Mace and being an expert in Chain Mail, make clerics a pretty powerful force for their gods. They can also master the Shield and should do so. Meditation is also a good skill for them to acquire.
A beginning cleric needs a high Personality. Intelligence is useless, while the other five are pretty important, but are not prime requisites.
Druids are also protectors of the forest, but on a much more intimate level - they worship the forest. They are adept magic users, but poor fighters.
Since druids start the game off able to attain expert levels in all seven magical disciplines (Light and Dark not included) they are best off spending all their points on their spells. They are poor fighters and are able to only get the Dagger to the master level and their next best is the Mace, which is limited to the expert level. For armor, they are limited to expert Chain and expert Shield. One plus that the druid does get is the grandmastery of Alchemy, as well as that of Meditation. In short, get their weapon and armor skills quickly, then spend all their points on their spells. That's the only possible way to play them.
Give the beginning druid high Intelligence and high Personality scores. The rest don't really matter, so use your own judgement.
The monk is one of the game's coolest classes. Deadly with their fists or staves, and hard to hit even when they are not wearing armor, they are heavy hitters. At high levels they can also use magic, and they can combine their skills to make them even better.
Unarmed and Dodging are the staples of the monk. If those two skills are not good enough, then be amazed when you hear that they can grandmaster them, as well as the Staff. A grandmaster at the Staff can use both the Staff AND Unarmed in combat. A grandmaster at Dodging can use both Dodging and Leather Armor (albeit at only master level). That is what makes him cool. Grandmastery should be obtained for Learning (only a 59% bonus to earned experience) and Bodybuilding. Mastery at Armsmaster just makes him better.
A beginning Monk should have a high Might, Endurance, Speed and Accuracy. Luck and Personality should be moderate, while Intelligence is not needed.
The paladin is a holy warrior. A champion for justice that strives to rid the land of all evil. The paladin uses both spells and weapons to further the cause of good. They have less hit points than a knight, and less spell points than a cleric, but they still tend to survive. A paladin's strength lies in his ability to attack with the Mace and his ability to defend himself with the Shield. They can get up to grandmaster status in either discipline. Plate Mail finishes off the image of the holy warrior, but is unfortunately only attainable to master level. Other than that, paladins can use any weapons and armor, and should think about mastering the Sword as a second weapon. Paladins can achieve up to master status in clerical magic, which makes them a good choice as a second healer. Other than that paladins would be good to get Repair Item, but only if they are the only one with it in the party. They have to spend enough skill points on other abilities that it would be a waste on this ability.
A beginning paladin should ignore Intelligence and Luck and work on the other five abilities. A high Personality finishes off the picture of the paladin as a radiant hero.
Rangers are the protectors of the forest. They fight for the protection of the land, not for the land's people. They are one with the forest, as they were trained to survive in it.
The ranger's weapon of choice is the Axe (I thought they were supposed to protect the trees.) - which they grandmaster. They can also master the Bow. They prefer to armor themselves in Leather or Chain, both of which they can master, but one should be chosen from the start. They should also grandmaster Identify Monster and they should master Perception, if possible.
The beginning ranger should concentrate on every score at the beginning and should stay as a well rounded character during the game.
Masters of magic, sorcerers are essential to your party's success. Able to smite many foes from afar with a single wave of their arms, they are quite powerful, and a mistake if you don't take them. Their spells also make your life a lot easier, allowing you to fly above everything, walk on water, enchant your items, even teleport from town to town and in and out of dungeons. Just these last few spells will save you hours when you are trying to find someone and you can't remember where he is.
There are a few things that sorcerers should advance in. Simply put: Magic. Grandmastery should be obtained in the four elemental schools as well as in either the Light or Dark schools. Grandmastery should also be attained in Identify Monster and Identify Item. Mastery in Meditation is also a good idea for these characters. The Staff should be raised as their single weapon, and then only to master level. Their armor should be Leather, and that only to expert level. Alchemy is also attainable to master level, but should only be acquired at a later date - magic should come first, or you will find yourself having problems advancing, because the enemies get really hard, really fast.
The optimal beginning sorcerer should have a high Intelligence to get more spell points. Endurance and Speed should be as high as possible so they can survive more than a hit or two. Personality is useless for them. The other three abilities are nice for them to have.
Thieves are fun to play with. Can't afford something? Then steal it. These characters are good to have if you like opening everything you see -- their Disarm Trap skill is really useful. It makes me wish I had a thief in my party...
At the start, thieves should split their time bringing up their weapons, their armor and their thieves skills. They should plan on wielding two weapons - a grandmastered Dagger and a mastered Sword in the other hand - and wearing Leather Armor at grandmaster level. As for skills, Disarm Trap and Stealing at grandmaster level are musts. Mastered Perception is another cool thing to have.
A starting thief should have a high Accuracy, Speed and Luck scores. Might and Intelligence follows, while the others are not really significant.