I love the M&M system. If I were to make my own RPG rules, damage saves would be all I'd use. It's easy and simple, it's a wonder it wasn't used earlier...although I know White Wolf has been around for a while, so maybe it has been used longer than I'm aware.
Hit points show D&D's Chainmail origins, when the game was an extension of a table top minis game. Of course it leads to this:
GM: "you get stabbed in the heart by the assassin's dagger."
Player, ok, so I've got 50 hit points...the dagger does, 1-4 damage, plus str. bonus, so I've got like 40 hps left?"
GM: "no, you've been stabbed. In the heart. With a dagger. You're dead!"
Player: "Wait, what did you roll to hit, 'cause I've got a +4 ring of protection on, remember. Did you remember that."
GM: "It doesn't matter what you've got on, you've been assassinated!"
Player: "But I have 40 hit points left..."
I'd love to run a fantasy campaign using the M&M combat rules.
Yeah, I first saw a vague form of it in WEG's Star Wars RPG. Then, a complex form of it in Shadowrun. Then a slightly more simplified version on White Wolf, and then, a completely stripped down, simplified version in M&M.
With that said, M&M's system is pretty versatile, and could easily be adapted for sorcds and sworcery settings. But, because it is designed to simulate comci book superhero action, it lends itself better to LotR action than say, Name of the Wind action. It's a game system designed for the broad strokes of large scale, movie style action.
If you're looking for action that more realistically communicates the inherent danger of being stabbed, I think White Wolf's Storyteller system wrks better. I mean the WoD version of Storyteller; obviously, they have a couple games designed for high octane action, but those systems are modified slightly to represent that style of play.
I just remember sitting at a Mage game one night, thinking how shitty it would be for my character to get even simply punched. I never felt that way playing D&D. In D&D, it was all, "Oh, what's a punch do? one to two points of damage? Gimme."
But in White Wolf, you find your characters making more realistic attempts to avoid being stabbed in the heart by a puny dagger...