I managed to take Garland down without much trouble, but then ran into the problem that the random encounters in the next area were all harder than Garland was. So I had to grind on stupid goblins for several more levels before eventually running my way to Bikke and slaughtering his pirates mercilessly. I boated to the elf town and proceeded to get into random fights right beside town. About half of them would kill me but the other half I could barely win and they were worth 5-10 times as much xp as the goblin fights were, so it was a good deal. The only downside was the inn in the elf town costs 100 gil to use, I had to use it after every fight, and some of the fights I could kill were worth less than 100.
Eventually I hit level 10 (learning along the way that you can actually scum for good hp gain levels, for an extra 19+d6 health if I scum which has to be worth doing) and got my second attack. This enabled me to beat pretty much all the random encounters outside the elf town. At level 12 I was able to do a couple fights before resting and decided to give the next dungeon a shot. I ran my way to the wizards at the bottom (learning along the way that 19 luck is not a guarantee in the playstation version and that monsters that look fast like wolves are hard to run from) and got obliterated. I got to take 1 action before I was dead. Now, that was a group of 4 wizards and I didn't get lucky on dodges so maybe I could have a chance against 2 wizards, right? Wrong. I got to take two actions. A miss and a 1x hit for 10. A quick look at a FAQ shows they have 84 health each, so I was not even close to killing one of them, let alone two.
The problem now is leveling up doesn't make me appreciably more powerful. Do I need to wait until I have 3 attacks to kill them? If I switch to a higher +hit weapon that'll happen at level 26. I'll have more than double my max hp at that time too, so I should be able to win then for sure. Alternatively the wizards hit so hard I could just take off my armour for the extra avoid being naked gives and hope I get lucky. My tentative plan is to level up to 16, crunch some numbers on removing my armour, and trying again.