The Bocan Islands, also known as the Bocans, are a very large island chain located some two months’ voyage to the south of Occident.
About 200 islands have been identified by explorers, and only a few dozen of these have been colonized. There may be many more islands than have been discovered. One estimate is that the combined landmass of all the islands, explored and unexplored, is about two-thirds the size of Lasant, or enough to form a small continent.
All of the Bocan Islands have a very hot climate, where it is summer the whole year long. Geographers now know that this is because of their location along Meier’s equator. The extreme heat is usually the first challenge that immigrants from the Old World face when moving to the islands.
Many of the islands are covered in rainforest. These forests have, except for the colonists, not been touched by civilization in countless ages, if ever. The fauna and flora of these forests bears some similarity to the jungles of southern Occident, but they have many more differences than similarities. Many of these forests contain trees whose fruit has magical properties. Other parts of the wilderness play host to enormous reptiles, the likes of which have not been seen in the Old World for countless ages.
On the other hand, some of the islands are completely desolate deserts, devoid of any meaningful life. There does not seem to be much of a pattern to which islands are deserted and which have forests.
When the first colonists from the Old World arrived in the Bocans, they discovered that many of the islands were, in fact, inhabited. These indigenous inhabitants were usually savage tribes of humans, elves, or giants. Other islands were not inhabited by humanoids at all, but were thick with fey activity.
Some of these indigenous inhabitants are friendly to outsiders. Most are not. Only the efforts of a few intrepid explorers have managed to glean even the most basic information about such hostile tribes.
One fact which intrigues modern anthropologists is that all of the indigenous peoples of the Bocans seem to share a common tongue. This language is known to Occidental linguists as Bocanto. The odd part about this is that the various tribes have wildly different cultures and, in some cases, no means of contacting each other. This has led many to conjecture that at one point in time, the Bocan Islands were all under the rule of some indigenous empire, which has since collapsed. This linguistic peculiarity has also attracted the attention of cryptohistorians, in whose complex theories the Bocan Islands figure heavily.
Since their discovery less than a century and a half ago, Occidental colonists have set up several settlements in the Bocan islands. There are a few dozen colonized islands altogether. Most of them belong to Arcland, but Gard holds a fair number. Lasant has a handful, and Urst has exactly one functioning colony, although it has made claims on various other islands it does not actually control.
Colonists come to the Bocans for a variety of reasons. The islands are known for their vast, untapped natural resources. Explorers have located deposits of gold, platinum, and other rare metals, while sailors have brought back strange fruits and spices to the Old World. Other colonists are refugees, criminals, or burnouts from the Old World seeking to make new lives for themselves.
The colonies vary as widely as the settlements of Occident in their size, wealth, and governance. They range from wealthy, restrictive Arcish cities, to freewheeling Gardish ports, to backstabbing pirate havens, to fortress towns.