I’ve stopped asking for class. I ask for some background TAGS, 1 trait and 1 personal item. These are enough to point to what kind of character the player is creating, without restricting it to a pre-defined class and give it room to develop naturally as they progress.
This is how I’ve been doing it:
I ask my players a few prompt questions to create tags: race/land? growing up? Work? 1 physical characteristic? 1 personality characteristic? (these can also have mechanical effects, for “ex fisherman” tying knots will be EASY)
EG. Numidian. ex-Fisherman. Man of arms for Lord Geoffrey. Balled. Earnest.
This is basically a feat or trait. An item that can’t be taken from them (barring brain damage or something). It should be something core to the character. It doesn’t have to be a good thing either, could be a disability or mutation. At the moment I call it TAG to keep it as open as possible.
EG. Resilient: below 5HP, RECOVER double.
EG2. Big: you’re very big! Athletic ATTEMPTS are EASY against Medium characters. (simpler description would be better, to use it more contextually)
3. Personal Item
A ‘personal’ item PCs start with or find in first game. For a wizard, it would be a spell book. For Cleric, a scepter/relic that lets them cast holy magic, etc. Could be a weapon, armour, trinket, book, pet, anything…
EG. Family clay dolls (Gladiator). Prayed to for resolve. EASY saves vs effects that affect your resolve (fear/intimidation/exaughstion/etc).
EG2. Great Sword of Cuthbert. Can hit multiple foes CLOSE to your target.
4. Starter Items
3 universal starting equipment
1 starter loot (sometimes found as loot in first sessions)
Allocate 6-8 stats (if races have traits/stats, apply earlier)