Was thinking a little more about the courtier game, and had some further thoughts:
Job Effectiveness: I touched on this last time in Rank and Skills, but also wanted to introduce Loyalty as an additional resource. In real courts, a tradeoff rulers had to sometimes make was choosing between bureaucrats who were good at their jobs but might plot against them, versus less competent hacks but who were more loyal. So likewise, when the player is doling out positions below them, you should be able to get courtiers who’ll do their job, or not undermine you, but not both.
Permission: I think the key to a court/bureaucracy is the concept of permissions. If you want to do X, you need to get Y on your side. This could apply to legitimate pursuits like, “To do your job as Minister of This, you could really use the help of the Seneschal of That”, to quasi-legitimate politicking, “The Lord Privy Cupbearer could get you invited to that party…”, or to underhanded activities like, “To assassinate that guy, you’ll need yadda to be complicit.” This gives the actors in the game something to trade with one another, and attaches a ludo-consonant mechanic to ranks/jobs besides something abstract like, “generates 12 influence points” or whatever.
Larger Goal: I like sandbox/open ended approaches in games, but there should be some idea of end-goals for AI courtiers and the player. An easy one is like, “Get the highest rank” or “Amass this much of a given resource like wealth or influence”, but then that amounts to just setting a finite list of victory conditions (which is what Redshirt does). But I like a more free-form approach. Maybe you can do anything you’d like, like try to usurp the throne, amass the most wealth, etc etc, but the court’s actions impact the nation you’re apart of, and that’s the real scoreboard. So you could end your game with “You’ve become on the wealthiest luminaries in the realm of Blah, which due to its corrupt and ineffective governance is a pretty crappy place”, versus, “Though your lifetime of toil and diplomacy will be forgotten by most and has left you with nothing, your diligence has created a strong and just government that is respected and beloved by its people.” So then the goal becomes whatever you want it to be, but the world will react accordingly.