-Feetwork makes you roll farther, makes it easier to dodge.
-Riposte, let's you live from a backstab blow.
-Dagger Throwing. It's very powerfull early game, take the +20 dmg skill.
-Bombs, bombs and more bombs. They will help you immmensily in act 1.
-Potions, always have a rook, swallow and that resist potion.
-Make the Dark armors. You don't really need all the sets, it costs too much and takes too much time. In fact, i got the Hunter armor from the Troll in act 1, then got the Dark armor in act 2 and got the whole set in act 3.
*As for builds go with what you want. But regardless you'd want some skills in the sword tree so start there. If you are going mage build, maybe going for Quen is a good idea too.
**You only need to suffer through act 1, act 2 is very easy and act 3 is ok/easy.
The best Swordsmanship abilities make Dark very easy as long as you have an idea of the right way to approach combat. I'm on my first Dark playthrough after playing on Normal and Hard and the only difference is that enemies hit harder. In fact, in my next playthough I'm going to focus on Magic just so I don't get the damage increases + damage resistance abilities from the Swordsmanship tree, hopefully making it slightly more challenging. --- http://i33.tinypic.com/1zny8ol.jpg
Regardless of what build you go, I'd put 2 points into the Alchemy skill to get Bomb Damage +100%. --- I am Thor Odinson of the Vikings, giant. I am not the god of reason and understanding. I am the god of Thunder and Lightning!