So, there's this guy (I guess) who goes by"Lars Dangly" over on one of the big RPG forums. So what? So he is kind of a random RPG encounter - out of the blue he has posted two free excellent RPGs.
One of them is "Balrogs and Bagginses" a set of original (and early) edition rules for playing in middle earth -and clearly channeling the adventure ethos of "The Hobbit ".
It is really really good, and this is coming from a massive JRRT geek. The rules are concise, freestanding (mostly spells are still a bit beta) and very nicely developed from bog standard OD&D.
So, it scores two hits in
1. Successfully pulling off a Middle earth RPG without being wildly concerned with microdetails, and
2. is another excellent example of what I think the OSR is doing (or should do) starting with the very basics of D&D and evolving it in a different direction.
Plus, the cover uses one of the best "adventure and get treasure" pix, evar.
Seriously, I love me some MERP, and tolerated me some whatever the second one was, and pretty much poked at the new middle earth RPGwith a stick, - but, this is at least as good as MERP for feel, and given that MERP was tied to the mondotablequest engine has a much more elegant system.
No kidding: it's a take on old style D&D that gets around the three class model very elegantly and avoids race as class (which I despise, thank you very much) . Very elegantly. Seriously, check it out -I'd go into it in detail, but as it is free, you can download it and decide for yourself. Plus, my beer is getting cold.