Perhaps when you come down to it, the matter is a question of how you define a 'Hero.' If we are to take the ancient Greek word, heros, there's plenty to justify player character actions as fitting that definition. The Greek heroes were petty, infantile, selfish, greedy, intransigent, boastful, inconstant, arrogant, squabbling and utterly lacking in loyalty or a sense of duty. So yes, if we must go back far enough, I'm willing to concede that your characters are 'heroes.'
This was not the ideal presented to me in my youth, through the eyes of children's authors, fairy tales and Hollywood films and TV. Without question, a lot of those depictions, say of El Cid or King Arthur and His Knights, were dead wrong. When you read Le Morte d'Arthur, you find out what a randy bunch of humping lords were the sitters at the Round Table, and any honest account of history will tell you El Cid was a mercenary bastard without much sense of mercy or compassion. But still, when I talk of 'heroes' and get responses, I don't hear the gentle readers advancing arguments like, "You don't know what you're talking about - heroes are self-serving money-grubbing pricks, and that's what our character's are!"
No, it sounds to me as though the argument is that the characters ARE what the fanciful 20th century painted up for children's viewing - the noble King Arthur and the loyal Robin Hood. Or if the reader prefers, the courageous Dorothy, the inquisitive but ever-considerate Alice, and the constant Wendy. Creatures without a single sin, without even the temptation of sin, struggling against villains and foes far beyond their ken, but certainly conveniently dispatched of once a good pail of water comes to hand.
Naturally, there can be no real discussion of 'heroes' without a point or two made about 'anti-heroes,' who are all the rage of Hollywood in the here and now. I'm not talking about the other Alice, who today fights Zombies constructed by the Umbrella Corporation ... selflessly, I might add, but then her lack of any need for comfort might be explained by her genetic enhancement. No, I mean any character played by Jason Statham, or a variety of cookie-cutter actors just like him, who are allowed to butcher and kill and slaughter and maim, as long as they don't keep any of the money they grab afterwards. Anti-hero and ordinary hero rules are the same: you DON'T get rich doing this.
Let me qualify that. Ol' Jimmy Bond doesn't take his cut from the barrels of money he gathers as he executes his enemies. He doesn't go out and buy a lot of shit to ramp up his killing potential. He's given gadgets by the powers that be that enhance his natural proclivities, but he doesn't BUY them. Alice the construct finds a shot gun or a blade and such, but she doesn't have ye olde Wallymart to buy stuff from ... if she doesn't have it, she doesn't NEED it.
What I'm saying is that if your conception of a hero is someone who slaughters orcs, then brings back the cash to upgrade your character, you're NOT a hero. You're a selfish dick who enjoys killing in order to subsidize your material lifestyle.
Those orcs stole that money from someone, and now you're stealing that money from the orcs. But it is STOLEN money. You're a thief ... unless you hand that money over to the local village, and that means all of it, every last fucking copper piece. You don't need money. You're a fucking hero.
Oh, and for the most part you don't need toys, either. All Quixote needed was a few pieces of junk he thought was armor. He had heart. He had his faith. That was all HE needed to go into combat, and if you're an honest-to-god hero too, you don't need all this crappy junk slowing you down. Armor is for people worried about their own lives, and you're not. God will look after your life, and he'll take you when he's ready. In the meantime you need to be as fast on your feet as possible if you're going to grab that maiden before the jaws close. If you're moving half-speed because you're in plate, you're not a fucking hero.
People have very interesting - and inaccurate - ideas of what makes 'selflessness' actually selfless. But this kind of delusion is pretty standard. The other day I caught the end of Platoon, which is just the sort of anti-hero non-hero delusion that runs rife through our culture. The movie, right down to the final scene, is just whine-whine-whine about the suffering struggles of American soldiers, supposedly the good against the bad, as ALL of them invade a foreign country for trying to govern itself. Oh, sure, we can feel awful and sorry for the poor innocent Vietnamese, but fuck those guilty Vietnamese, defending their country and all, what a bunch of assholes, don't they see I'm trying to win an Oscar here?
Sorry. If you enter into an orc lair, and kill orcs because they're orcs, and take their money to buy armor so the next orcs you kill find it harder to hit you, you're not a fucking hero.
Though no doubt you THINK you are. Villains always do.