“Everything is Paid for, So Feel Free to Break It”The line meant that every NPC, prop, piece of machinery, robot, scaffold, window, vehicle, weapon, computer console, whatever - was breakable and destroyable in the final battle. The referee shouldn’t feel guilty about the players wrecking the place with rocket launchers and cone rifles, and similarly, all the players equipment (and their clones) were similarly wreck-able. There were no magic swords to feel guilty about snapping in half, protect pieces of magic plate mail to avoid scratching, and Gandalf’s magic robes could be ripped to shreds.
The whole skewering of RPG sacred cows and signature player items felt liberating, and it gave me a sense of freedom that other games lacked. Not that I wanted to be a mean referee, but it reinforced the idea of ‘everything being at risk and on the table’ when a party of players goes into dungeon or other dangerous area.
Many games have rules for these types of situations, and in my experience, they are rarely applied. Sometimes this is due to complexity, and many times it is because the referee would feel guilty about breaking a player’s favorite toy. In 3.5 and Pathfinder, if a party gets caught in the blast of an enemy’s fireball spell, a lot of items need to make saving throws. Armor and weapons may be destroyed, potion bottles may shatter, wooden staffs and shields may be embers, spell books may be set ablaze, and a whole bunch of other bad stuff will happen. Granted, having to make hundreds of saving throws for items is a huge pain, but the rules are there, and this was their intent for including them (this goes all the way back to AD&D, in fact).
Personally, I do not feel the guilt of applying this rule, because the feeling that the risk of losing your favorite weapon, armor, NPC, or magic item increases the danger and risk involved in a mission, and really, part of what it is to be a hero. Losing Excalibur but still saving the princess is the stuff of which legends are made.
A caveat: If thou shalt take away, thou shalt not be stingy in replacing these things either. It is only fair for the players, and actually creates an economy for replacing broken gear. The gear soldiers take onto the battlefield isn’t invulnerable, rifles break, kevlar vests need replacing, vehicles become unfixable wrecks, and boots wear out. The one consistent theme in this idea is that the hero is more powerful than the gear; and when that gear fails, the moment comes for the hero to improvise, get creative, and overcome. Why deny a hero that moment?