Tambok Plateaus

Describe an inhospitable area in your world and what its environment is like.

Situated in the Great Desert of southern Marivar the Tambok Plateaus combine arid deserts with a maze of high cliffs and escarpments. Vegetation s at best sparse and water almost unfindable save for the string of oases that wind through one of the valleys.   Wild animals pose no risk or terrors here - for there are none beyond the size of a rabbit or predators suited to such prey. No, the heat and the lack of water are your two prime challenges if you venture into this land.


A broad expanse of desert covers the southern quarter of Marivar from coast to coast, with the Tambok Plateaus forming the southern half of this desert. The form of the land suggests a single plateau where large parts have been stripped away to leave flat land on two levels separated by high cliffs. The area has not been well explored and there is little known about the higher plateaus; the lower level has been inundated with sand making it hard travelling even though essentially flat.   The string of oases in the central valley suggests that there is an underground river and folk tales from the northern part of the desert suggest that once upon a time a civilisation thrived here before the coming of the sands scoured them from the face of the land.
Image taken from page 17 of 'Grand CaƱon of the Colorado River, Arizona ... With original illustrations, etc' (C.Higgins, Chicago 1893)

Fauna & Flora

For the most part, there is none. The Tambok Falcon nest on the cliffs preying on smaller birds and the small herbivorous animals the eke out a living on the desert scrub found in the lower lying areas, sheltering in burrows to avoid the heat and predators. The largest of the herbivores, the bokbuck, is similar in size and form to a hare; land predators are dominated by lizards, typically around twice the size of their prey.   The palm trees found at the oases of the central valley and occasionally on the coast are slow growing, often taking fifty years to mature to the point of bearing fruit, but have a long and productive life after this initial period.

Natural Resources

Sand and stone are plentiful here, though easily enough found in most other areas that they have no intrinsic value. More useful are the outcrops of Bok marble, found in some of the escarpments. This is strong and unusually fine grained making it well suited to sculpture; the strength being particularly valued here as is allows sculptors more scope than other stone for free positioning of limbs. It is generally white, though coloured outcrops can be found, and polishes to a smooth and lustrous finish. At its peak the Marivan Empire had seasonal quarries at several locations to furnish the best quality stone.

The Lost Cities of Tambok

The Parou tribes of the area north of the plateaus speak of a civilisation that thrived for centuries in the lowlands between the plateaus until the gods, tired of the faithlessness of this civilisation sent the sands to scour the land clean of their impiety. Some tribe's tales imply that these cities may still be found buried in the sands and that some of the people continue their decadent civilisation on the tops of the plateaus.
Some spectacular ruins have been found and the disappearance of the workers from the marble quarry of Pshoo has been attributed to these lost tribes of the desert lands. The remoteness of the area and the logistical challenges have, so far, exceeded the zeal of antiquarians and explorers to examine how much truth is associated with these stories.

Image taken from page 28 of 'Travels in Egypt, Arabia, Petraea and the Holy Land', S. Olin (new York, 1843)
Not a nice place - sand and flies everywhere. One season was enough for me despite the money.
— Arnulf the Quarryman
Map for Unknown Lands
Alternative Name(s)
The Southern Maze
Location under

Finding my marbles - a field geologist reports

Our expedition comprised twelve men with 20 Marivan Dromemel to carry our equipment and a further 5 just to carry extra water for we knew we would be venturing deep into the deserts and be some way from any known oases. Previous years work by may colleagues has identified Plateau 27 as a promising source of a particularly fine flesh coloured marble that would be most sort of for sculpture; we were to find a location for a quarry that could deal with blocks upto body size. This meant understanding the strata and finding a location where the bedding planes were right, the faulting minimal, the face at close to ground level and with a route out to the loading beaches that would take the weight.
It took us five day's trek to reach the plateau; finding a suitable site for a quarry was straightforward, or perhaps we just got lucky, but prospecting a route out took us the remainder of the season and with a likely journey of fifteen days to transport the stone out it is marginal. On the positive side our chosen quarry site is only a mile from a spring of fresh, clean water which previous groups had missed for it's being in a crevice at the bottom of the marble stratum. If this lasts it will, I think, me enough to make the quarry workable and the quality of the stone is such that there should be good profits to be made. We named the place Pshoo for the dromemel that sniffed out the spring.


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