The AD&D Oriental Adventures book is now generally viewed a well intentioned rules exercise that people say they wanted to like at the time. I see most current discussions semi-nostalgic about some flawed rules and at best an awkward feeling about some the cultural presentation. I dabbled with it shortly after the release, wished the ninjas were a more straightforward class, and pretty quickly returned to the comforting arms of the Player's Handbook and Unearthed Arcana. It came out now and then for inspiration, but it was rarely used aside from someone's attempt to play the samurai class.
I still skim parts now a days and see the potential of some of the systems, but jump to other systems or more recent OSR supplements. I pulled it out again this morning looks for ideas to flesh out my own house rules for Fighters and Thieves. Under the Bushi class rules I found the parallel passage to the Fighter freehold rules with some distinct differences:
When the bushi reaches 9th level, he can establish himself as a warlord. To do so he must capture or clear an estate and mark its boundaries… All bushi followers remain only so long as they are paid the character’s cause is not doomed… Upon reaching 12th level, 1d6 1st-level samurai will apply for positions. This is an extremely important event, since it legitimizes the bushi’s position…Those distinctions reinforce the bushi's rise from poverty and initial social standing, especially in contrast to the samurai's:
At 7th level the samurai is offered jito (stewardship) over one of the properties of his daimyo... At 8th level the daimyo offers the samurai the position of shugo (constable of a province).This is closer to the Player Handbook style, but more clearly acknowledges feudal responsibilities. It really makes me want to run a game where land holdings and the "starting position" of Houses of the Blooded becomes the mid-campaign goal. I've done some "least establish a home base" and the shift to defense and diplomacy. It is a different sort of game - elements of the game and some mechanics shift to the background. But "establishing yourself as a warlord" and capturing your land? That's some next-level murderhobo action.