Nights of the Crusades is an RPG that’s gotten lots of good reviews. The good news is that the pdf is free.
There are a lot of people out there trying to recapture the spirit of the original D&D games. For my own part, I can think of nothing that was more magical than my first excursion into the blue covered rulebook I got back in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Old School Hack is another attempt.
Under the Moons of Zoon is a John Carter of Mars inspired free RPG.
The author writes:
Under the Moons of Zoon (also UTMOZ) is the grand child of a previous project of mine Kalevala.
Kalevala was originally born in 1991 as a one of many cheap italian role playing, live action and board games collectively known as “Giochi del duemila”. Of all these mini-games Kalevala was chosen to be published in Kaos a games’ magazine published at the time by Nexus Games.
Kalevala used a sort of universal mechanic based on 1d20 and used a free-form magic system simialr to that of early versions of Ars magica.
Later on -circa year 2000- Kalevala got translated to English and completely revamped to use only d6s for publishing under Demian Katz’s Aegis.
While rewriting kalevala I had the distinct impression that the new system had potential, and already at that time I had a compulsive need to write COMPLETE rulesets, as complete as my beloved D&D Rules Cyclopedia.
UTMOZ was born from the revamped system for Kalevala, adding psionics, weird science and much more and removing magic. The main inspiration for the background setting is John carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Violence is a modern version of dungeon crawling, in which you shot your way through an apartment building instead of slashing your way through a dungeon. The authors write:
Violence is a lot like Dungeons & Dragons by that other company. You and your friends play characters in an imaginary world. You wander about a maze, kicking down doors, killing whatever you find on the other side, and taking its possessions. The main difference is this: The world isn’t some third-rate fantasy writer’s drivel about elves and dwarves and magic spells, but the world of today. The doors you kick down aren’t those of a subterranean dungeon–unless you’re in the subway but those of decent, honest, hard-working people who merely want to live their lives. The things you kill aren’t cardboard monsters whom the game defines as okay to kill because, well, they’re monsters but fellow human beings, with families and friends and hopes and fears and highly developed senses of morality far better people than you, in fact. And the things you steal aren’t magic items and gold pieces but stereos, computers, jewellery, and whatever other items of value you can lift.
In a sense, it seems that you’re not supposed to play this game as much as read it. As they pointed out on Play This Thing, reading it should bring about questions about what you’re doing in a standard dungeon crawl. What’s the real difference between raiding the homes of monsters and stealing their stuff and raiding apartments and stealing their electronics?
It is a good read, though.