Before creating a character, look at the information on race, class and statistics, read the linked guides and check out the fighting strategies of the various classes to decide what you think you will enjoy playing the most. Match your character to your personality, (or vice versa). Keep in mind that all characters play much the same for the first few levels. Though I haven't gotten that high, there are those who say that you can't get a true feel for a class before level 15 or 20. I would say it is at least level 7 to 10 before you start to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your class. Since it can take 60 or 70 hours to just get a character to level 8, I would suggest you start out with something you really feel will be fun to play. I hope this guide can help you save some of your precious playing time by steering you to the character which suits you best.
For the most part the choice of a server is not crucial, since it doesn't really affect lag like in some other games, but different servers will affect your playing style. There are some factors you should consider. First is whether you wish to player kill (PK). If you are really into this, you should probably choose one of the pvp (player versus player) servers or the race war server. While you can chose pvp on any server, probably 99% of the other players will be non pvp and only pvp players can affect each other with spells such as heals. The reality is that you can't really be an effective pvp on a non pvp server. Another factor to consider on choosing a server is the age of the server and the number of people who play there. The older the server, the higher the levels will be of most of the players. Also, on the older servers, many of the low level characters are secondary characters for players with high level characters, which means they are often twinked with items not normally available to players at that level. Of course, these players will also be more familiar with the zones and with how to properly play the game than many newer players, and there are likely to be more items floating around for sale than on the newer servers, driving the prices down somewhat. If you are from Europe, you may want to consider Solusek Ro, which is kind of the unofficial European server, and has a large German and French Speaking population on it. Probably the biggest consideration is server population. Many servers suffer from some serious over-crowding issues. The game was designed to handle about 1,500 people at peak, but several servers go into the 2,000 range. The more people on at a given time, the more competition there is for kills. If you aren't looking to meet a friend who is already established on a given server, I would highly suggest that you find a server with a lower number of players.
You chose your character's stats when you create it, and have to live with the decision thereafter. There is no one perfect way to set up an individual character class. Much of it depends on your playing style, your preferences and the decision you make as to how you want your character to make his or her way through the world. Below are the basic descriptions of how the stats affect the characters.
This is probably the most important skill for tanks. Strength affects your maximum damage cap, the average damage you do, how much stuff you can carry and how quickly you learn many offensive skills. If you plan on wearing heavy armor and carrying around a lot of extra equipment, you will need decent strength. With a high strength you can carry more loot and armor and go longer before having to run back to town to sell. If you plan on soloing, you may want to put extra points into strength, even if you are a magic user. It is definitely important for a fighter type to have good strength, but you should also consider some of the other attributes.
One of the most important stats for all classes. The higher your stamina, the more hit points you get for each level. Over time, this can really pay off. It also affects how well you can breathe underwater. This is more important for the tank classes than magic users.
This determines how hard you hit with your bows, how quickly you learn weapon and rogue skills, and how often a magic weapon will process it's skill. This is a good skill to have for fighters, especially rangers and rogues, and of only limited use for magic users.
This determines how often you get hit or missed by an attack and how much damage you take when you get hit. It also affects how quickly you learn defensive skills. Since you will take less damage and have a better chance of not having your spells disrupted if you have a higher amount of agility, this is useful for both fighters and magic users. However, for magic users, its usefulness diminishes as you go up in levels and spend less time in actual melee. I wouldn't bother with this stat too much for a magic user who plans on grouping most of the time, but a solo magic user should probably have a high agility.
The most important stat for the basic caster classes. For Wizards, Magicians, Necromancers and Shadow Knights, the higher your intelligence, the more mana you get for each level. This is obviously very important since without mana a magic user is basically worthless. The higher value of intelligence or wisdom is used to determine how quickly you will learn most of your skills, which makes having one or the other high useful for all classes. Many would suggest that a magic user put all of his points here. Certainly, if you plan on spending most of your time in a group, intelligence is the most important stat to boost.
The same effect as intelligence for the deity-based magic users: Cleric, Shaman Druid, Paladin and Ranger. The higher your wisdom, the more mana you get for each level. Very important for the deity-based magic users, but much less important for everyone else. The higher value of intelligence or wisdom is used to determine how quickly you will learn most of your skills, which makes having one or the other high useful for all classes.
The biggest effect of charisma is in the amount you will get buying from and selling to NPCs. If they like you, they give you a better deal, which is not to be ignored in the cash starved world of Norrath. Charisma also affects the saving throw for charm spells, which makes it very useful for bards and enchanters.
The choice of deity affects how NPCs will view you. In general good citizens like people who worship good gods, and vice versa. This factors into the prices you pay at the stores, the quests you are given, and the willingness of guards to come to your rescue. When choosing a god, think how it will affect your role playing. Certain class/deity combinations are killed on sight in some towns. A rogue who worships the goddess of love will probably face ridicule at the local thieves guild and have a hard time convincing someone to train him. On the other hand, a wizard who worships chaos will probably find few friends in the more civilized cities. This is not an unimportant choice.
Pick a name that is easy to read, spell and remember. Here's why. First, especially at lower levels, each member of a particular race looks a lot alike, except that hovering above everyone's head is their name for all to see. This is your chance to distinguish yourself. Second, you meet with people, group together and disband a lot during the game. Assuming you were a good group member, you want everyone to remember you so that they will group with you again. It is best to have a memorable and unique name that will stick in the memory of other players. Finally, the game requires a lot of personal messages where the person has to type in your name to talk to you. Oddball spellings are just annoying when trying to find and talk to someone. Take your time and think up a good name that fits your character. Your name can never be changed.
You can fill in a biography on your character by right clicking on his picture (or /conning yourself). When others examine you they will be able to read your biography. This is a good time to start to role play your character. Think of some basic information that will help you define your character's personality, and put it in. Is he going to be Good? Evil? Selfish? Uptight? Stingy? Generous? Helpful? Adding a personality to your character will really help you get into the game, and it doesn't have to be your real personality. I would add that if you plan to play an evil selfish player, be prepared to have difficulty grouping. The servers are small enough that reputations are earned and spread among the other players.