I have sucked at ADOM too. This is what I do to do better.
1. go to www.adom.de and read the forums. Ask questions there. Its a special Adom forum
2. read the Adom wiki
http://ancardia.wikia.com/wiki/ADOM_Wiki (lists newbie friendly classes)
3. read the improved adom guidebook
Drakeling Paladins have good early game survival. You will run into alot of trouble in 1 dungeon midgame, but worry about getting there first.
Talents: Miser,Alert. These don't do much, but it lets you get 'treasure hunter' with your next talent. This radically improves your drops. After this get the 'speed talents' next. Anything tha tincreases speed.
Starsign: Pick Candle. Google 'adom starsign selector' this lets you pick a starsign. you can ask for a link on the adom forums. This is generally not considered scumming. Candle is generally considered the best starsign. Especially for beginners.
Get familiar with f1,f7. This sets your tactics. walk around in defensive mode with f7. When you go to attack switch to f1 (bezerk) switch back immediately.
Drakelings Power: press m and a direction to spit. Very good missile weapon. Best part is that its attack power and accuracy does NOT drop when you are in defensive mode. So you can go f7 and use it when you get in trouble. Note this makes you hungry. So watch your food. I always buy food at the first town before going anywhere.
Go to the infinite dungeon to start. Stay on the first 3 levels. Go up and down. This should be easy to get you levels and will give you a good shot at getting potion,scrolls, rings, amulets,etc...
read the scrolls you have to learn them. Take off items in case you get something that destroys weapons. use identify scrolls to identify potions first. If you find holy water potions dip your identify scroll in it. Reading a blessed identify scroll will ID everything in your inventory.
Stair hope some between level 3 & 4. in the ID, you have to go down 3 levels to increase Danger Level (its one level in most other dungeons). Higher dungeon level means higher drops. So at 4, you get a little better drops. The advantage of staying at low DL drops is that most potions, scrolls, etc... are DL 1 so you increase your odds of getting them because there are not higher DL items. Get 7-8 levels here.
Go back and continue with the newbie dungeon. This is a good way to learn some mechanics.
One note. Watch hunger. Its nasty how you can just starve and not see it.