A Hero At Heart character can be designed to operate in any of the Hero At Heart settings, or all of them! The process is free of restrictions, so you can make any character however you please.
You first figure out who it is that you're making. Figure out what type of character you're going to put together: is he strong and hardy, nimble and quick, smarter than the average bear, or a combination? Then you take that idea and start to make it real. Print up one of the Character Sheets and start to create!
The first step in doing that is Attributes. You have 12 attributes, Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Reflexes, Fortitude, Intellect, Willpower, Faith, Focus, Psyche, Luck, and Persona. You start with a base of 45 in each of these, or you can start with zero in all of them with 540 points to spend, and then assign them or redistribute them how you wish. Remember a starting player can have no less than 10 and no more than 90 points in any attribute.
If you are playing in a setting that has different Races, you should choose your race now. This may give you some bonuses or penalties to your attributes. If it brings any attribute higher than 90, that's fine, but if you have an attribute brought below 5 by your race, you'll need to redistribute more points. Make sure you also mark down any characteristics or special abilities that you have by being a member of that race.
Your character will need some characteristics to define who they are. These come in positive characteristics, called Advantages, and negative characteristics, called Disadvantages. Don't forget to check the campaign setting you are using to see if they have any special ones. These characteristics give you special bonuses (or penalties) during play, and some may give your character special perks or problems which will help define them and make play more interesting and fun.
These cost skill points, and starting now, you have 100 to spend. Each characteristic has a point cost, and Advantages take that amount of skill points from you while Disadvantages give you that amount back. You can buy as many Advantages as you can afford, remembering that you still need to spend some of those points on skills. However, you are limited to the number of Disadvantages you can take (otherwise you could take so many of them that you could have as many Advantages and Skills as you wanted!). That amount is ten percent of 100 minus your Luck score, rounded up. So, if your Luck was 60, subtract it from 100 (100 - 60 = 40), and take ten percent of that amount (4). You could have up to 4 Disadvantages.
Note that many characteristics can be purchased in ranks of up to four. Each rank costs as much as buying the characteristic, so if you wanted three ranks of a characteristic that cost 5 points, you would spend 15 points total on it. See the individual listings to find out which characteristics can be purchased in ranks and what those ranks will do for you.
Using the leftover points from your characteristics, you can purchase Skills. Skills help your character perform special tasks by giving an additional 5 point bonus per rank in the skill to actions covered by that skill. Again, don't forget to check your campaign setting to see if it has any special skill listings.
Each skill rank costs a number of points equal to that rank, and you must buy each rank individually. Thus, if you wanted a skill at level five, you would first have to buy it at rank 1 for one point, then buy rank 2 at two points, then buy rank 3 at three points, then buy rank 4 at four points, and finally buy rank 5 at five points, for a total of fifteen points (1+2+3+4+5=15). See the Skill Purchase Chart to see how much it costs to buy skills all the way up to their maximum rank of 20. A starting character is limited to five ranks per skill.
If there are any skill points left unspent at this point, they are lost, so be careful to spend them all!
Fleshing Out Your Character
Name your character, describe them, give them a backstory. Share this with the GM so they can make stories that will work with your character.
You don't have to buy equipment at the start of the game. Unless certain characteristics allow it, you should not take anything too out-of-the-ordinary (magic items, amazing technology, etc), but rather let your character find these things during a game session. Beside that restriction, give your character whatever you (with the GM's permission) think you would have. In one playtest of the Star Captain setting, a mute character asked the GM if they could have a device on their arm that translated their thoughts into characters on the screen, and the GM allowed it because, in a futuristic setting, it made sense that a character who was mute from birth would have an item like that. It wouldn't make sense in a fantasy setting, though!
There is no encumbrance rule in the Hero at Heart system. If you think you could carry all the equipment you've given yourself, and the GM agrees, then you can! Just don't think you can carry around a bazooka, six machine guns, and three swords without having the GM offer up some resistance.
Some settings have such special abilities as magic, super powers, etc.. Follow the individual rules under that setting to find out how to apply these to your character.
Finally, hand your character sheet to the GM and make sure he thinks your character will work. Make any necessary tweaks, and get ready to play!