Tavleks were bipedal hominids about 1.5 to 2 meters in height and weighed between 45 and 150 kilograms. They possessed a natural lifespan of 80 cycles though many did not reach that age naturally. They had tannged orange skin, with ridges and pits at varying intervals along their body with very little body hair and dark eyes ranging from black to medium hazel. Due to their poor medical siences, any injuries a Tavlek received on their homeworld went untreated save for rudimentary stitching and stapling thus many possessed visible scars on their bodies which were seen as proof of resiliency and daring.
The Tavleks were always militant, but their ruthless and confrontational approach to other races only reached the current level of aggression after achieving interplanetary exploration and the introdution of the Gauntlet into their culture during the Sisk Wars.
Tavleks were omnivorous, but preferred meat, a remnant of their long-standing culture. Tavlek eyesight was better than average, with a natural ability to see darkened surroundings. Mature Tavleks usually wore body armor for protection during hostage raids and on hunting parties.
Visors or face shields were often worn in optimal sunlit circumstances to protect their sensitive eyes. When not engaged in raiding or hunting, Tavleks wore comfortable robes made of animal furs and skins. Most Tavleks were extroverted, hard-headed realists less concerned with intellectual pursuits or emotional inner peace than survival. This attitude became particularly obvious after widespread distribution of the Gauntlet among the Tavlek population. The Gauntlet was one of the most enduring symbols of Tavlek culture, developed about 180 cycles ago during Tavelk's first interplanetary war with the nearby Sisk. It enabled them to attain eventual victory over their enemies in their first off-world conflict.
Tavlek society was organized into a loose military structure; the oldest and strongest members dominating the weaker ones. No planetary military, religious or legislative authority existed for Tav, however; the largest clans tended to dictate the day-to-day life of the rest of the planet. Tavleks formed medium-sized tribes and raiding parties. Males and females shared equal status and responsibilities in warfare and family life. Juveniles received a Gauntlet (and became addicted to krycel) when they reached adulthood, after they proved their bravery and strength in a series of survival challenges. Tavleks were intensely loyal to their families, tribes and clans, and regarded all outsiders as fair game.
While the Tavleks developed several religions, no single philosophy or ethical system dominated. Most Tavleks who belonged to the kidnap-and-ransom trade professed skepticism on the existence of deities or an afterlife, but this did not prevent a few from converting to off-world religions. Some even left their clans and returned home in an effort to preach new ways, with varying dgress of success.
Prior to the invention of the Gauntlet, the Tavleks had a materialistic but thriving culture, with advances in architecture, ship-building, weapon design, and biochemistry. However, since the introduction of the Gauntlets, these pusuits stagnated. The freebooter trade floruished, but some sciences (such as medicine) regressed and without a consistent system for ditribution of stolen wealth, few Tavleks prospered unless involved with piracy or kidnapping.
- Terry Ryan explained that "the idea for the Tavleks was that they came from their own army once, but they don't have a home. Basically, they're a transient nomadic species that go from one place to another just looting and getting everything they can." ("Farscape Chronicles" - Starburst Edition DVD v1.1)