The inhabitants of Jechette are humanoids of normal height and proportion. Compared with humans their ears and nose are slightly undersized and both male and female Jechetteri share a similar build, which can confuse those not familiar with the race. Jechette skin is pale with symmetrical variegated patterns of darker browns. Jechetteri are hairless. Instead, where humans would have hair on their heads, Jechetteri have several rows of spines connected with a thin membrane, similar to a fish’s dorsal fin. These membranes have complex patterns using the same light-and-shadow colors as Jechetteri skin, but with stronger contrasts. It has become the style of Jechetteri to add colored accents to this with cosmetics.
Jechetteri society revolves around the houses. Children are raised by the house of one of their parents or, more commonly, by a crèche that this house supports. Children do not automatically join the house of a parent and instead are given a name followed by the day and month of their birth. There are hundreds of houses, but the competition for the most influential houses is fierce. Young Jechetteri compete for these positions by demonstrating great skills or acts of service. If a house agrees that a Jechetteri would be a good addition, that Jechetteri is adopted by the house and the last part of their name changes from their birth day to the name of their adopted house. The competition to join a house is one-part job search and one-part marriage proposal. Once a Jechetteri is a member of a house, only extreme circumstances will sunder that relationship. If a Jechetteri chooses to have children, their spouse will not necessarily be from the same house. Any child is usually raised by the more powerful of their parent’s houses (or by a crèche funded by that house). Only about a third of the Jechetteri are selected to join houses. Those without a house membership occupy the lower rungs of Jechetteri society, performing paid labor for houses as needed.
There are hundreds of Jechetteri houses. New houses can be created easily, but there is a stigma associated with new houses as they lack the lineage and resources of an established house. It is generally felt that those who found new houses represent the dregs of Jechetteri society – those not good enough to find membership in established houses but lacking the work ethic to serve the existing houses. Once in a while a new house will be founded by talented individuals who can grow the house to a measure of prosperity, but generally new houses find themselves poor and unable to attract new members, and fail after a generation or two.
There are 9 great Jechetteri houses. These great houses have thousands of members each, but they still reject hundreds of candidates for every one they accept for adoption. These houses control about 80% of the Jechetteri economic empire, with another 30 minor houses controlling most of the rest. The remaining houses tend to be primarily focused on local activities and serve as clients of the great and minor houses. Shortly after house Lemeu founded the Jechetteri economic empire, it formed the Court of Great Houses as a means to settle internal disputes between Jechetteri powers and help coordinate a unified front against non-Jechetteri economic forces. The Court quickly eclipsed other temporal Jechetteri institutions and today is the de-facto governing body of Jechette. The houses compete against each other, but usually will unite against strong economic competition from non-Jechette sources. The Court initially recognized only the 5 great houses who had been part of the original Lemeu coalition, but since then 4 other houses have acquired the economic resources to warrant inclusion as great houses.
The great houses preside over the court, while the minor houses tend to get involved only in matters that directly touch their interests. By the standards of some Brasslight courts, the Jechette Court of Great Houses is downright collegial, but which is meant that no members have been murdered by other members, and most disputes are resolved by debate and maybe a discrete bribe rather than by personal armies and assassins. Trades are made, deals are struck, and new opportunities explored, and the Court is the center of it all. While a gross oversimplification, there is a degree of truth in saying that a house’s influence in the Court is directly proportional to their economic capability. The great and minor houses are always looking for the next opportunity to improve their personal portions of the Jechette economic empire.