There's a post about it from back in September. Early game has to be trade-offs. I went ahead and got expert bow and a good bow and pretty much cleaned out the outdoor areas of New Sorpigal. Also did Goblinwatch and Andover Portobello's second quest. I didn't do the NWC dungeon. It's slow going but gives you an early start.
I agree on water, but there are so many things you need early on, that I hit expert in a few before I went for master in that. Specifically: Merchant, Disarm, Fire, Air (for fly) and also Water. Unless you're planning to hit the NWC dungeon repeatedly, gold will be a problem for a while, especially without merchant. I didn't bother with either Identify or Learning early on.
Some possible tips. You can do Prince of Thieves without killing much of anything except for some rats. Just run past everything else. Twillen's statuettes is doable with fly early on. Lord Kilburn's shield can be done with fly and some combination of enough skill in disarm, an item of thievery and a locksmith. Don't forget End Winter.
Once you do get master water for LLoyd's beacon, you can do the archer promotion with Ring of Fire and an item to regen spell points. It's a little tedious but with opening and closing doors you can pretty much just sit there and kill almost everything without them being able to touch you. Then of course the second archer promotion is simple. After that you should be at a level to get most of what you need early on. Then I would do learning and start clearing critters.
Hope that helps.