One might assume that your Vocation would be the next most important part of character creation... and it's true, it's a very important part, indeed. However, a large part of why it's so important is that it determines how your attributes increase, and there's no point in worrying about that if you don't know what your attributes are, what they're good for, and so on. Hopefully everybody understands the general idea: attributes include such parameters as your Hit Points, Stamina, Strength, Magick... you know, those old gameplay conventions.
How much punishment you can take before you die. Your Pawns die, no big deal, you go over and give them a hand, and life goes on. If you die, however, it's game over, so these are somewhat important... at least, for your Arisen.
Every time you suffer damage, 25% of the damage taken is persistent damage, which can only be recovered by resting, using healing items, or entering a healing spring. The rest of the non-persistent damage (75% of damage taken) is displayed as gray on your Hit Point meter, while persistent damage is black.
Still, there are a few reasons why Hit Points aren't terribly important... granted, it's always nice to have more, but it's not a primary attribute concern. First, your Hit Points are only as good as your Defense and Magick Defense. Having loads of Hit Points means little if it's not mitigated by Defenses. The classes that are high in Hit Points (Fighter and Warrior) also have good Defense, but you will never have high Hit Points, Defense and Magick Defense. Second, since you can enter your inventory at any time and use healing items (even while scaling a foe or in mid-swing) Hit Points are somewhat less of an issue than they might have been, if the game was less generous about inventory access... third, there are several ways to mitigate damage. Not getting hit is good, dodging should always be your first option, but blocking works too... in fact, if you plan to use a shield, having high Stamina (to block multiple attacks) is better than having high Hit Points... lastly, Invisibility outright makes you immune to most damage. You've got plenty of reasons to focus on other attributes.
You use Stamina to sprint, block, cast spells, climb, use skills, and perform special attacks. Yeah, everything uses Stamina, and since using skills, casting spells, and climbing are the best ways to kill most foes, Stamina essentially funds your offense. It's a very, very important attribute, only diminished in importance due to the fact that you can use recovery items at will to heal it in the midst of combat.
Stamina regeneration does not improve as your Stamina does, so keep in mind that having more Stamina only affects what you can do before you're forced to take (increasingly longer) breaks to recover Stamina.
On the other hand, there are no ways to mitigate Stamina usage the same way damage can be reduced or avoided. You will use Stamina in every fight, or from just running from place to place-you won't always be getting injured. All in all, it's best to have a good fund of Stamina... if you had to choose between Hit Points and Stamina. This is even more true in Dark Arisen, since Invisibility depletes your Stamina six times faster.
Strength determines the damage you deal with physical attacks-be it with bows, fists or swords. If you plan to make any sort of melee character or archer, this attribute is essential.
A few things might seem to impair its usefulness-your weapons will probably have as more of an influence on damage as your base Strength, for example, and there are several skills that boost your Strength, but the two greatest boosters - Autonomy and Bloodlust - actually improve your ultimate attacking power based upon your base Strength (modified by other skills and your weapons, of course). So, your Strength score is exceedingly important to your overall offensive prowess, and you should focus on it - or Magick - exclusively. After all, Hit Points and Stamina can be restored by inventory items at will, and Defense and Magick Defense only mitigates damage taken... Considering how easy it is to restore Hit Points and Stamina, you should focus on offense. Pick one, and do it well.
damage you deal with magical attacks-spells and weapons with elemental properties, for example. If you wish to play a magic-user, this attribute is essential.
Magick functions exactly like Strength-it's boosted by skills and weapons. Both Strength and Magick-based builds are viable options, and should be your only real goal when leveling up. Just keep in mind that Magick is more difficult to level up, as playing a Sorcerer is... tiresome, and if you make a Magick build, do so with the intention of playing a Magick Knight, Mystic Archer, or Assassin-not a Mage or Sorcerer. Pawns do the latter roles just as well.
Reduces the physical damage you take from attacks. There are several reasons this attribute is... not worthy of consideration. First, Hit Points can be healed easily enough, and damage can be avoided. Second, even with a rather low base Defense, with skills and gear you can reduce the damage you take down to negligible amounts... save from stronger foes, who hit hard enough that they likely won't ever deal negligible damage. Plus... you know the saying 'the best defense is a good good offense'? Well, it's true. Dead foes don't deal damage very well.
Reduces the magical damage you take from attacks... same thing as Defense, really, with the same suggestion. One thing to note, however, is that magical attacks tend to be more powerful at their worst than physical attacks.