I’ve managed to squeeze in a few more hours of game time during the holidays, thanks to an old laptop that was available for me to borrow. Even though I’m playing at 15-20 fps the game’s pulling me more than recently rpgs. I’ve settled on a pretty good character now, picked Gifted and Lucky as my starting traits, with a stat spread of 8 STR, 3 END, 10 DEX, 8 INT, 7 ATTNT, 7 PERS, 4 LCK. The real game changer for me was when I crafted a custom revolver, which is a crafted upgrade for the zip gun that you can craft from the very beginning. Both are very easy to make - revolver holds 5 bullets and deals 7-9 tooltip damage, and can be fired 3 times per turn with 10 DEX. Damage output is significantly higher than any of the other easily acquired weapons in the early game, and with a decent mag size you can dispatch 2 enemies before you have to reload. Zip gun ammo (which revolver also takes) is also pretty easy to make so this is a very viable option if you don’t want to bother with melee.
Also, Personality is an AMAZING stat. I’d go so far to say that it should be prioritized over combat stats, it just adds so much and unlocks potential for lots of xp gain through conversation - either by unlocking interesting information about characters or even unlocking quests - or alternate solutions.
edit: I think this is the first time I’ve seen partial success for a stat check. Very interesting.