I ran all the Moab trails open/open on 31s in an otherwise bone stock 3 speed 40. After a couple of years I put a locker (lockright) in the rear. Best mod I have ever done. Then after a while the committee decided that most trails required 33s. D@mn. Okay, so I lifted a couple inches and put 33s on. A couple years later I stuck a 4 speed H42 in. That's what I run now. Coarse spline birfs, drum brakes, steering by Armstrong, no roll bar.
My friends in Rising Sun who showed me how to wheel (Rob Meredith, Dave Spratlen, Greg Luer, Kevin Ehrlick, James Bingham, Dan Dilly, Stephen Rudy, and others) basically have said to me, and showed me, that it isn't the rig so much as the nut behind the wheel.
Just make sure all your mechanicals are in good shape and don't worry about mods.
Learn to drive first, then think about what mods suit your style. Pick good lines and have fun!