Geared primarily toward combat, Paladins will probably be the most comfortable Life choice for RPG veterans who are beginning their quest. Paladins can equip all the best armor and inherently use standard one-handed swords with shields. Offering a nice balance between offensive and defensive power, the Paladin Life largely revolves around combat, and mastery is largely built on completing common battle tasks while living as a Paladin. Reaching Novice status as a Paladin allows you to equip swords and shields as other classes (though not heavy armor) and execute associated weapon techniques.
Another combat-heavy role, Mercenaries specialize entirely in two-handed swords, prioritizing offense over defense. The sword techniques available to Mercenaries will be familiar to fans of games like Monster Hunter: They involve considerable warm-up and recovery time, and attacking with heavy strikes often leaves you vulnerable to counter-attacks. Though easily the strongest class in battle, Mercenaries require a deft touch, especially against large groups of enemies. A Novice Mercenary can equip greatswords in other classes as well.
Hunters are less focused on resource gathering than you might expect. While you'll sometimes earn food or item drops from defeated enemies, Hunters really exist to provide a ranged combat option for battle. Unlike Paladins and Mercenaries, Hunters can keep their distance from difficult enemies, minimizing their vulnerability, and their bow techniques can be used for both crowd control and status damage. Hunters don't fare well on their own, but paired with a melee-focused companion to take the heat, they can provide excellent support from a distance.
As you'd expect, Magicians use various forms of sorcery in combat. Like Hunters, they tend to be fragile and not so good up-closed, but their ranged attacks can hit hard. Certain enemies can only be defeated with elemental magic, in fact. Magicians also make excellent support characters thanks to their ability to use effect spells such as healing. Once you reach Novice level as a Magician, you can cast spells any time you like — but as with the other combat-focused Lives, you only earn Magician credit for combat feats performed while living as a Magician.
Alchemists are all about chemistry and items. Learning Alchemy allows you to transform all those raw materials you gather around the world into useful consumables like bombs and potions. A Healweed leaf may heal you for 10 hit points, but when an Alchemist combines it with Springwater to make an HP Potion, that little leaf suddenly restores 50 HP. Alchemists combine their reagents in flasks, and once you become a Novice Alchemist you can use a flask and the alchemy work bench in any Life. Unlike with the combat classes, any Life-specific goals achieved toward Alchemy count toward your Alchemy Life rank regardless of your current Life.
Like most of Fantasy Life's classes, the Cook Life offers no particular combat advantages. Instead, it's more of a supplemental role. As a Cook, you can take raw ingredients — fruits, vegetables, herbs, liquids, etc. — found throughout the world and combine them into delicious food. Much like an Alchemist's concoctions, the food a Cook prepares amplifies the effects of raw ingredients, making this a useful trade for players who tend to use a lot of healing items. Prepared food can also be sold to shops for a respectable amount of cash.
Miner is a great role to learn early on, because its tasks revolve around gathering resources you'll see as you travel the world. With pickax in hand, a Miner can break down mineral deposits in the wilds and in caves to gather raw materials from them: Metals, ores, and stones. These materials come in quite handy for Blacksmiths and Carpenters, and once you become a Novice Miner you can gather materials anywhere you come across them regardless of your current Life.
As with the Miner Life, the Woodcutter's tasks revolve around resources located in the wilds of Reveria. When you spot certain kinds of trees, you can chop them down and gather the resulting lumber as raw materials. These come in handy both for Carpenters and for Miners, or you can simply sell off the materials for cash. Once you complete the introductory lesson, you'll become a Novice Woodcutter and can carry a saw everywhere you go, cutting trees in between battles with roaming monsters.
Like Alchemists and Cooks, Blacksmiths rely on crafting station to build their experience levels. Refining raw ores into metals, then combining those metals with stones and wood, Blacksmiths largely specialize in creating combat gear like weapons and armor. Blacksmiths also have the ability to craft tools for several other classes, including Carpenters and Miners. You can use the Blacksmith forge regardless of your current Life once you achieve Novice status.
The Tailor is a more peaceable counterpart to the Blacksmith, focusing on the creation of clothing for civilian applications. A Tailor's wares are invaluable to non-combat classes as well; only a limited selection of Lives allow you to wear the Blacksmith's heavy armor, while the rest rely on the Tailor's apparel. Where the Blacksmith works with ores, the Tailor's craft revolves around fabrics refined from natural fibers like Dandelion Puffs and Silk. Many reagents that come into play for Alchemy also have a place in the Tailor's workshop.
As the Blacksmith is to the Miner, so the Carpenter is to the Woodcutter. By refining raw wood into beams and combining them with other materials, a Carpenter is able to create a wide range of goods. Much of this Life has to do with crafting furniture, which isn't too useful for much beyond decorating your room — but once you learn to craft effectively, you can sell your creations for quite a bit of Dosh, making this a useful road to wealth.
And finally, the Angler. Just as the name would suggest, this Life is probably the most relaxed of them all, revolving entirely around fishing. Anywhere you see a body of water (or other liquid!?), you can look to see the shadow of a fish in the depths and cast a line to try your luck. It's a great excuse to wander the world and take it easy. And the fish you catch make a great resource for Cooks, and often sell for decent money as-is. This is a great Life to train in early on so that you can fish any and everywhere along the road of your journey.