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Skills - Practice Makes Perfect
Practice, Practice, Practice ... Always keep an eye out for practicing your skills. For example, if your spell casting skills are closed to maxed out, but your warriors weapon skills' are lagging, consider winning the fight with straight melee instead. Sure, spells might make the battle go faster and easier, but doing it the other way allows your warriors to attack more times, and thus get more practice for their weapon skills.
There are a number of places where you can simply sit down and practice a skill non-stop until you max it out, or come close to. Be forewarned that this can get really tedious very fast, and requires patience. But if you're willing to put in the effort, your characters will be so much better for it. It also provides you the luxury of putting the 9 skill points available on each characters' level up into skills that may be lagging or you may not have had the opportunity to practice up on yet.
For precise information on what each attribute provides, check out this link.
My thoughts are as follows ...
Vitality - A lot of people discount this for a number of reasons. One, it doesn't promote skills development (i.e. like how a higher Strength score would make your weapons skills develop faster). Second, you can render the Iron Skin skill and higher hit points meaningless simply by maxing out your armor class. I go against the grain here. In my opinion, maxing out vitality early on has a lot of benefits. First, you will get hit a lot more during Expert mode, even with maxed out armor class, and the resiliency that comes with maximum Vitality and the Iron Skin skill will help a lot. Also, Vitality adds both stamina and carrying capacity, and both make combat and exploring so much easier, especially for a 6 man party that doesn't have extra NPCs to distribute the weight of the inventory to. Keep in mind that Vitality doesn't add hit points retroactively for levels already advanced, so if you want to prioritize this, it is best to do so immediately.
Speed - The benefits of Speed are two-fold. One, it increases your initiative, your ability to perform your actions first before the monsters do. This is an invaluable advantage during combat. For example, let's say a character is close to dying just as the previous round of combat has ended. You obviously want to heal up that character before a monster can deliver the finishing blow on the near-dead character. It is precisely this situation, and many others like it, where having greater initiative becomes so valuable. The other benefit is that it increases a character's number of attacks, and number of swings per attacks. Keep in mind that the number of attacks and swings your character gets also factors in weapon skills, the Close Combat skill, and any initiative bonuses provided by the weapons. Nonetheless, Speed is an important part of that. For my warrior characters and my Bard, I prioritize Vitality and Speed first.
Intelligence - In my experience, this can make everyone develop their skills a little faster. This benefit is not quite enough for me to justify it for my warriors. The key point is for an offensive spell caster to acquire the Power Cast skill, which empowers every facet of any spell you cast, duration, likelihood of inflicting a spell effect, damage output, piercing an enemy target's resistance, etc. For my Faerie Bishop, this is THE priority. But do not advance anyone's Intelligence past 95 though. The reason is that there is a permanent +5 bonus to Intelligence to be had fairly early in the game. Pushing Intelligence anywhere past 95 would be a waste of attribute points that can be spent elsewhere.
Piety - The key attribute for a Priest. It increases stamina and spell points. This is a top priority for my Priest, since it furthers development of Divinity and leads to more spell points. Maxing it out allows my Priest to acquire the Iron Will skill, which increases all resistances across the board. Since it is often my Priest who has to use his spells to help out damage/afflicted comrades, it is only logical to immunize my Priest to those same attacks/conditions. My Bishop will also start to add to Piety as well, and also Vitality, after she has maxed out Intelligence and Speed.
Strength - The next priority for my warriors after Vitality and Speed. Strength has multiple benefits, increased carrying capacity, stamina, damage, attack rating, and armor penetration. Keep in mind you often have difficult choices when choosing which attributes to advance. I reasoned that I'll be more durable down the road after I've maxed out Vitality, and my damage output also increases after getting Speed. I did quite fine in the interim. But then my warriors simply get that much better once they can turn their attention to this. Why not have your cake and eat it too?
Dexterity - Increases attack rating, but more so for ranged / missile attacks than melee attacks. Also increases attacks, and swings per attacks, but not as rapidly as with Speed. It is a priority for my warriors, but only after Vitality, Speed, and Strength.
Senses - Improves attack rating for both melee and ranged attacks, but at a slower rate than either Strength or Dexterity. This is my lowest priority, since advancing Strength and Dexterity together will do far more, especially since Strength increases stamina and carrying capacity and damage to boot.
There are also a number of considerations involved with choosing your spells on each level up.
Multiple uses of the same spell - Sometimes a spell is so useful, or you may want to cast it more than once in the same combat round, so that it is helpful to have more than one character who can cast it. For example, suppose you run into several groups of Demons. If you have two or more characters who can cast Banish, you can blow them away in very short order. On the other hand ...
Versatility - Suppose that more than one character in the party can draw on the same spellbook. One character can learn a spell that the other character may not have time for, and this can lead to greater versatility. For example, my Faerie Bishop will want to concentrate on offensive spells, and this will include some Alchemy spells like Death Cloud and Toxic Cloud. My Ninja therefore learns the Alchemy spells that the Bishop can't get around to, like Fire Shield and Draining Cloud. This will give me more options.
Choose spells from different realms - I bring this up again during advice on combat, but basically, r-click on a monster to get a sense of its resistances (e.g. fire resistance 30%, air resistance 50%). By choosing spells from different realms, you'll be able to tailor your spell choices to the relative weaknesses of the monsters you're facing.
Start accumulating early - Try to get your early spells from as many of six realms, Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Divine, and Mental, as you can. Sure, it may be tempting to have your Mage learn the Fire spells in a straight succession. Or same thing with your Priest when it comes to Divine spells. But if you put things off, by the time your spell caster gets around to learning spells from other realms, your spell caster won't have a lot of mana for that realm. Having your spell caster learn his or her early spells from each of the realms will begin an early accumulation of mana in each realm that persists with each level up.
Choose the most powerful spell for each realm when you can - Here's an example. Earthquake has an Earth mana cost of 18 per power level. Armor Plate has an Earth mana cost of 8 per power level. If a Priest learns Earthquake, then the Priest will accumulate more Earth mana with each level up then he or she would if the Priest had only learned Armor Plate. Learning the most powerful and available spells from each realm, Nuclear Blast for Fire, Resurrection for Divine, etc. will result in more accumulation of mana in that realm during each subsequent level up.