THe big deal is that with past edtions, you didn't need to houserule things. THat was a matter of preference. With MRQ houseruling is a necessity. Most of the things being houserulled now are thing where everyone is looking for an alterantive to a core rule, rather than individual GMS around thier gaming table.
This is true, but unfortunately it is largely true with any game I have bought and played (beyond D&D/d20) in the last four years. I think it is phenomenon that is due to a lot of rookie game designers are now beginning to make new versions of older games, a sort of a "new start" for most RPGs.
I think there is very little else to be said there. Most games today are rather "broken" in one aspect or another. The most horrible example must be the Swedish RPG Drakar och Demoner that since 2000 has gone through no less than four editions, each time radically redesigning the basic rules fundamentally. The latest edition finally scratched any semblance to the previous editions and began with an all new system, only a few bits and pieces remains.
BTW< I disagree with the "tweak one rule and it won't have a big effect elsewhere" thought. Since the game is all interlinked, changing one aspect of the game requires changes in other areas or new problems will apear. An example is the "extreme lethal" damage tables. Use them and sudddenylu parrying becomes meaninless unless one is using a kite shield.
A change in one area usually affects several other areas.
It is a far cry from d20. Try to change d20 by adding a +2/+3/+4 bonus to an attack/save for a class, or try to create rules for parrying and dodging, or try tweaking any aspect of the rules, and you will end up having to rewrite all the rules form scratch to take into account and balance the rules because of the changes (look at Conan, prime example that it can be done but that it requires a lot of work).
Very few aspects of RQ would radically change every piece of the game just because I change it.
If I change the rules so that a parry always blocks all damage and a successful dodge always avoids all damage, that does not break the system anyway near as much as if I add +2 to the attack bonus of the paladin class in D&D.
In fact, as it stands now, the only really big blunder with RQ seems to be the resist rolls, which can make you invulnerable (or at least as near invulnerable that you may just ignore the 1% failure risk) from certain spells.
The no total hps (punching bag syndrome), halving rule, dual or one attack roll, less effective parries/dodges are frustrating and perhaps not the best ideas seen in RPG rules, but they work (I think current RQ will need at least an edition or two more before the rules have all their "weirds" worked out). Which can not be said about the resist rules for spells.
It definetly shows that it is very hard trying to make something that is better than Basic Role-playing (including previous editions of RQ), but not being allowed to make it BRP.
Fact remains that the basic structure of BRP works so well that it is very very hard to replace it with mechanics that works in an equally easy played and logical manner.
It is a shame that the desingers of current RQ has replaced the Resistance table with such a nice mechanic as the opposed rolls (the only mechanic that can replace it) and then they do not use it enough for such things as spells vs resistance.
Making a spell casting roll opposed by the resistance roll to resolve the "conflict" would have been perfectly in line with how the basics of MRQ works. Unfortunately they instead choose a simple unopposed roll to resist spell effects.
So to return to the original topic, perhaps that is just what we need to solve the problem. When a spell is resisted, the spellcaster makes a secondary casting roll that is opposed by the targets resistance roll.
In the Arkana campaign setting I am writing for these rules, I am going to use either the Magnitude x 10% penalty or the opposed roll as described above for the magic system. I just have not given it that much thought yet.
I think it will be a sure bet to assume that we are going to see a lot of variations of the RQ rules, if RQ should succeed in becomming a standard OGL system like d20 has been for a large number of settings and games.
At least it is a beginning, perhaps the "best" RQ rules will in the future not be made by Mongoose, but a third party. Pretty much like what Mongoose has done to WoTC.