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In Nethack, a Valkyrie is IMHO the best character class for newbies, for three reasons.
  1. She starts with a good shield which she can keep wearing until late in the game as extra armour.
  2. She also starts with a decent weapon - if she's lawful she can convert it into Excalibur - and the first gift she gets from her deity is Mjollnir.
  3. Her quest artifact halves the damage she takes from any source! This made the difference between success and failure in my first ascension.