If our chosen genre is a steampunk-pirate mash up, then we can pretty quickly choose seven common cultures.
4 common (worth a single point each)
The Imperial/Colonial Forces - These are the conquerors and lawkeepers of the setting.
The Pirates - These are the daring criminals who seek freedom and gold.
The Freebooters - These swashbucklers exist in a grey area, unofficially working with the Imperial/Colonial forces, but getting away with whatever they can in the shadows.
The Settlers - These folk are just trying to make a living in the new world, far from their homeland.
2 less common (worth 2 points each)
The Church - They came here to convert the natives and ensure believers don't stray from the flock.
The Natives - These people lived in the surrounding lands long before anyone else arrived.
1 uncommon (worth 3 points)
The Cult - These hidden manipulators believe something powerful is hidden in these strange lands.
These cultures are stereotypes, short-hands to get new players onto the same page. As time progresses, there might be new uncommon or even rare cultures (worth 4 points)...such groups would only be available to experienced players who had proven their abilities and capacity to maturely handle such concepts.
At the moment though, every faction has one or two potential allies (including one of whom who is common), and a couple of natural antagonists (once again, including one of whom who is common). This is done to deliberately start the process of storytelling.
Imperial/Colonial - Typical allies: Freebooters, Church. Typical antagonists: Pirates, Natives.
Pirates - Typical allies: Freebooters, Natives. Typical antagonists: Imperial/Colonial, Settlers.
Freebooters - Typical allies: Imperial/Colonial, Pirates. Typical Antagonists: Settlers.
Settlers - Typical allies: Church. Typical antagonists: Freebooters, Natives.
Church - Typical allies: Imperial/Colonial, Settlers. Typical antagonists: Natives, Cult.
Natives - Typical allies: Pirates, Cult. Typical antagonists: Settlers, Church.
Cult - Typical allies: Natives. Typical antagonists: Church.
It should also be noted here that a deliberate choice has been made to include 'Natives' as a culture rather than a race. This is done to allow characters who have 'gone native' by embracing the local culture, it also shows that the one race might spread across all cultures. Another deliberate choice comes in the lack of a 'steampunk' culture, that sort of thing will be handled in specific occupations and the feeling of rebellion against the Imperial/Colonial forces.
When it comes to races, earlier examples in this series included an Elf, but I don't know if the typical 'Human', 'Elf', 'Dwarf' fantasy mix is really appropriate for this new genre choice. Instead, I'm thinking of those quirky new races that were introduced in the Eberron D&D setting, or perhaps the various half-blood races in the various World of Darkness games. Everyone is basically 'human', but with the less common races having the blood of some kind of supernatural being in their veins. I'll flip things around with the costs here, with one common race, a few less common, and more uncommon races.
Common (1pt cost)
Nullan - Mongrel descendants of multiple races, any supernatural blood has been cancelled out through cross-breeding (nullified), basically human.
Less common (2pt cost)
Dhampyr - Long-lived nocturnals with the blood of vampires/undead in their veins.
Faeblood - Enchanted dreamers with the blood of changelings/faeries in their veins.
Wyldkin - Vaguely animalistic with the blood of lycanthropes/shapeshifters in their veins.
Uncommon (3pt cost)
Avatar - Heroic demigods with the blood of the celestials in their veins.
Incarnate - Spirit beings manifest in a humanoid form.
Pureblood - Reputed to be the original race of humanoids.
I'm thinking of these races as capable of mixing and matching with each of the cultures already described without too many problems. I'm also thinking of these races from the perspective of costuming in a LARP (each will have a few hints to help make them distinct).
The final piece of the puzzle comes from the occupations. If I'm working off the Warhammer Fantasy RPG model, there are dozens of occupations (maybe even hundreds), where a character follows a career progression from basic jobs, through intermediate stages until they reach the most powerful positions in the setting. I like this because it doesn't specify levels, but it gives a character a sense of history as they work their way up to the powerful positions of the setting. It's not as open as a simple point buy skill system, but sometimes a new player will be hit by option paralysis when they have a blank slate to work with. This option gives a manageable set of choices, and shows possible progressions that a character might aspire towards.
Here's my initial ideas for the starting occupations available to characters:
Apprentice (2) - studying under a master to become a craftsman (or something else).
Archer (1) - practiced at ranged combat
Brewer (1) - capable of brewing alcohol (and other concoctions)
Courtier (3) - adept in matters of etiquette and courtly affairs
Farmer (1) - harvester of crops
Follower (1) - takes part in regular rituals of the church or the cult
Footsoldier (2) - the front line of warfare on the ground
Hunter (2) - predator to the animals of the wild
Marine (2) - the front line of warfare on the sea
Messenger (1) - brings news from one part of the realm to another
Mercenary (2) - fights for anyone who offers the right price
Merchant (1) - trades goods for money, and money for goods
Mystic (3) - possesses an innate knack for otherworldly gifts
Novice (2) - dedicated to some deity or otherworldly spirit
Powdermonkey (1) - in training to become a cannoneer
Rogue (2) - dedicated to a life of crime and adventure
Sailor (1) - learning the ropes for a life on the sea
Swabbie (1) - beginning the life of the high seas adventurer
Scholar (2) - student of books and letters
Urchin (1) - hardened from a life on the street
Wanderer (1) - has travelled many places
I could do far more, but for the moment this seems a decent starting list. In time characters will be able to aspire toward things like...
Alchemist - capable of creating elixirs and arcane concoctions
Blacksmith - capable of crafting the finest items of steel
Captain - in charge of a ship, with a crew under command
Clockwork Maestro - master of gadgets, trinkets and clockwork magical devices
Elementalist - wielder of ancient mystic arts
Musketeer - master of duelling with pistol or blade
Priest - leader of cult or church
Shaman - occult specialist of the natives
The occupational array will probably be the most complex part of this game, with the most powerful options often requiring five or six occupational steps before they may be reached (each of which might take a few months or real time to progress through).