When you first enter the game you must create a character. Character generation in "Daggerfall" is as free-form as the rest of the game. Your first step will be to choose a race for your character. According to the dialog, races have unique attributes which can enhance or detract from your character's abilities. Mostly these are modifications to the range allowed for the initial roll-up of the character attributes. The manual gives a good description of racial benefits, but the High Elf immunity to paralysis is probably the handiest for the new player. You must also choose your characters gender. There is a slight difference between male and female attributes, but through the addition of bonus attribute points and rolling the dice until you get numbers that you like, it evens out pretty quickly. Have fun with it.
Treasure is not affected by your class, but it is affected by your gender, at least as far as the styles of clothing and Cuirasses (if you haven't noticed that girls are shaped differently than guys, you've been staring at your computer too long). All else is equal between genders, races and classes.
Unlike traditional CRPGs, "Daggerfall" does not award levels based on how many critters you kill or how much treasure you accumulate. Instead, your level is determined by skill development. In other words, a mage doesnt gain levels for beating something to death with a weapon. He gains levels by using magic. A Thief gains levels for being sneaky and other thief-like things, and so forth. How well your character is able to perform certain actions is a function of his/her skill level in various areas and the attribute controlling that skill.
Your skills are broken down into 4 categories: Primary (3 skills), Major (3 skills), Minor (6 skills) and Miscellaneous (everything else). Not counting race and gender bonuses/penalties, Primary skills tend to start in the high 20s to low 30s. Major skills start in the low to mid 20s. Minor skills start in the mid teens. Miscellaneous skills usually start at less than 5.