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So I'm ready to take on the end boss in Ultima 2, quest-wise. But I really really need my stats up in order to survive. And that means I need a whole lot of gold, and that means that I need a whole lot of monster kills.

If you only need a little bit of gold, you can go into Le Jester (Africa, 1423 BC) and kill the thief at the start and run away. This has the advantage is that there is always a monster available, but it gets really boring after a while.

My best idea is to turn emulator speed way up (something I was hoping to avoid on my first run through, but this is getting silly), and hold down "east" near the north/south pole for a while, and then go around and kill the monsters that spawned. Anyone have a better way?
You're on the right track there. What worked well for me back when I played this on my C64 was to go to the Time of Legends and wander around until a ship has spawned. Once you've got that sail north/south and let the monsters spawn. Typically it would only take a few minutes of this and there would be 2 or 3 dozen monsters ready to be mowed down by the ship's cannons. I'm guessing this will probably work just fine in the GOG version.
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Harrier: You're on the right track there. What worked well for me back when I played this on my C64 was to go to the Time of Legends and wander around until a ship has spawned. Once you've got that sail north/south and let the monsters spawn. Typically it would only take a few minutes of this and there would be 2 or 3 dozen monsters ready to be mowed down by the ship's cannons. I'm guessing this will probably work just fine in the GOG version.
This worked like a charm. Go to the Time of Legends, get a frigate, get to a space between the shores and just press "P (pass)". Ramping up the emulation speed to max makes this quite a lot quicker. After maybe 10-20 monster have spawned go and shoot 'em all, then repeat until enough gold has been gathered.

I just completed Ultima II a few days ago. It was quicker than expected when you know how to get the critical items needed for Minax's fortress. Well, it still took maybe an hour to save gold for everything needed. To minimize grinding you can make your character a thief and just steal all the food and equipment you need immidiately from the first town. Well, you still need to save for a Power Armor (it seems it can't be stolen) and of course get the Quick Sword, but good starting equipment can be stolen right at the beginning.

I used the fan-patched version running with Boxer DOS-emulator on OS X. At least on that version there's a slight bug (or feature, don't know which) that you can offer the Clerk in Hotel California zero gold and he'll raise one stat to 99. Speeds things up quite a bit and I'm not even ashamed of using this because grinding for money is so tedious in this game.
If you're going to grind you might as well cheat, it's the same thing but cheating is faster. Just use the savegame editor (works on Mac as well)
http://ultima2.ultimacodex.com/the-ultima-1-to-5-savegame-editor/