Basically, you are shipwrecked and washed ashore in North Tyris, a region in the game wold of Irva. You start off with your basic adventurer rags, and you can use the cave you were nursed back to health in as a temporary home while you're getting your footing, but you'll want to set forth for the first town of Vernis to make your way in the world as soon as possible. There, you'll reunite with your lost pet companion, and then you can begin your adventure in earnest.
The biggest threat to you in the early and mid-game is probably the dreaded etherwind. Blue, dust-like rain falls on the overworld at certain periods, and staying outside when the etherwind is blowing is a surefire way to get a bunch of nasty mutations. Now, sometimes mutations can give you positive effects, but it's best not to risk it. The first thing to do when you're starting off is to stay close to a town so you can take refuge in the etherwind shelter that every major town has (or in your home, if you have one) when the etherwind starts blowing. Until you can afford the very expensive and rare potions that cure mutation, you need to plan your movements carefully!
For my first character (started many, many years back when Noa was still actively developing the game), I rolled up random race and class to play and swore to just roll with whatever I got. Race: Fairy. Class: Farmer. This is problematic for a huge number of reasons - fairies are tiny, they're weak, they can't even equip gear that weighs more than 0.1kg, and farming is a strength-reliant profession! Did I reroll? No! I just set out to make it work anyway. Short term goals: Save up some money (buying a farm aint cheap!). Medium term goals: Grind up my STR and Weight Training so that I could carry more stuff despite my tiny size, to someday become a good farmer. Also, pledge myself to the God of Harvest, Kumiromi, and pray to him daily for his divine blessings and farming boons.
Elona+ has dev releases and stable releases - for maximum stability in transferring over your character from release to release, it's recommended to only update on stable updates, but if you're willing to risk your character data getting messed up (always keep backups!), then you can hop into every dev update. The Elona+ wiki is here, and you can also download the game here:
To be clear, even just the plain Elona+ will ask you if you want to play in Japanese or English on startup so you have always been able to play it in English, but a lot of lines and features (especially in the dev builds) remain untranslated or gibberish for long periods of time. It seems Elona+ Custom was created to provide quicker, higher-quality English, so give it a try if the Japanese version is too intimidating.
You can also find Elona discussion and beginner tips at your favorite gaming site, whatever that may be. I won't link to any of them out of courtesy to communities that sometimes prefer to stay small, but a simple google search should take you to your preferred place (and if your favorite gaming site doesn't have somewhere for Elona discussion, consider that your favorite site may suck).
Maybe I'll get to review Elin if/when it finally releases, the first PC game review on this site.
Do you play Elona, or did you give it a try because of this post? What's your character's objective and playstyle? If you feel like it, let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!