Thank you all! Next time I do MM7, I will likely do PMDS and deal with the late game back-and-forth using LB. (Debating MM7 or MM6 next...or possibly MM8 but MM7 is my fav since I have less time for gaming now, even though MM6 was more fun when I had more time to deal with hordes and huge worlds.)
Monk development questions...I know what the *target* is with Staff/Leather/Armsmaster/Unarmed/Dodge all the way, but this would be my first time with a Monk...and my questions revolve around how to best get to that point.
For purposes of below, a "skill set" is "Unarmed/Dodge" or "Staff/Leather/Armsmaster". Here are my questions:
1) Is it best to focus on one skill set first, then the other once developed as far as possible? Or is it better to develop both skill sets simultaneously...to deal with some enemies that may be better to attack with a staff and others unarmed?
2) If "yes" to #1 (focus on one skill set first), which should I prefer, or are they both quite doable for a newbie to unarmed/dodge? (I don't care which is *optimal*, but are both doable without insider tricks? I have beat the game before but never used unarmed/dodge. Unarmed/dodge seems weaker on Normal, but IIRC the expert trainers are in Harmondale so you get to Expert very rapidly.)
3) Monk first promotion is quite easy to achieve...but then leveling becomes more expensive. Is it best to put this off somewhat, or do it right away?
4) Is there any utility to the Monk's spell points?
1) Since you can't use Leather and Dodge at the same time until you have GM Dodge, just focus on one of them at a time. Same with Unarmed and Staff: advance one of these two at a time. Staffs and fists do the same type of damage (physical), so there isn't any reason to swap between them for different enemies.
2) I suggest focusing on Leather/Staff/Armsmaster first, since those provide more benefits faster. Once you've got enough skill points in them to hit Master (or whatever your highest possible mastery level is), then start sinking points into Unarmed and Dodge. Keep in mind that you'll need 10 points in Unarmed and in Dodge before you can GM either one of them.
3) I don't think getting a promotion makes training costs for the character go up. Even if it does increase training cost per level, it is still worthwhile to do the promotion quest early, since it increases your hp and gives the monk some limited casting ability.
4) There is a little bit of utility to monk spell points, since the monk gains access to Self magic. The monk can cast the basic Heal spell, adding one more source of healing to your party (and lowering the amount of time and spell points spent by your main healers after battle). If you go dark side, then the monk won't ever provide much more than a minor band-aid for your party, but at least it is a band-aid your main Self casters don't have to provide.
The same can't be said of the Thief. By the time a thief can cast spells, none of their available spells are relevant.