I came back from vacation, and look what was waiting for me! John Stater's Blood & Treasure and the first ten issues of NOD, received in exchange for some doodles I did for Mr. Stater's forthcoming Tome of Monsters.
I encountered Stater's work my first week of noodling into the OSR. The concept of the hexcrawl was kinda new to me (my formative D&D edition was Holmes Basic), and Stater has produced troves of hexcrawl resources. He stuck out particularly to my art-school eyes because of his visual sophistication (NOD #7 has the best cover in the entire OSR).
It's a massive stack of material, and I haven't had a chance to do more than skim, but man-o-pete, it is good.
B&T is a wonderful system, drawing from across games and editions, and designed to be modified for your comfort, with lots of clever new considerations. I might graft race-as-class onto it and use it as my new system, or harvest huge bloody chunks of it for either B/X or Microlite20.
The centerpiece of NOD is the presentation of a sandbox world. I assumed that I'd scavenge it for my own sandbox, but I'm thinking more and more of adopting it outright. Even more exciting are the non-sandbox articles which present races, classes, and rules and system variants. Really clever stuff.
The only downside to these products is that they are print-on-demand from Lulu. This means that they are a) expensive and b) the image quality leaves a lot to be desired. As mentioned, Stater has a sophisticated eye for art, both public domain and commissioned, so it's disappointing to have it reproduced as pixelated, greyed-out lines. Fortunately, everything is available as pdfs, which alleviates both problems. And neither problem is so horrendous that I'm not going to go ahead and get the rest of the NODs in print.
I'll probably write more about the individual issues, because this is going to be the bulk of my rpg reading for some time to come.
You can download issues #1 and 6 of NOD here: Free Downloads.