Loa are supernatural spirits differentiable from denizens of another realm. They do not, for instance, “live” in the Feywyld, the Shadowfell, or the Astral Sea (though they often consider those places their home or plane of origin). In terms of how mortals live, the term does not mean the same to Loa. They exist; many do not really have lives.
Loa are generally considered to exist beyond the definitions of the planes and, as such, they seem more akin to gods, goddesses, and primordials than to creatures like demons or devils. Many religious scholars believe that Loa are features of reality that were designed for creation by gods like Moradin or Pelor, but which were never created: the gods failed to win enough substance from the primordials to serve as construction material for all of their ideas. The Loa are a reality that was planned, and as such exists as a plan, but they were never built, and therefore do not have a stable existence. Thus, the Loa are like blueprints for things that could not be made. Their lack of ‘being’ is sometimes a sore spot for the Loa themselves who become jealous of things that actually were created—the most retributive of Loa often claim a kind of jealousy for the living. The existence or Loa serves as a sign to all that the gods’ victory over the primordials wasn’t complete enough to allow for the realization of the gods’ entire plan for creation. Other scholars believe that the Loa are like angels for the primordials. This may, certainly, be the case for some Loa, but it is clearly not the case for all. Still other scholars hold that Loa are the spirits of gods who were either destroyed by the primordials or who have atrophied through lack of worship. The scholars of Krimfolet deny the existence of Loa entirely and consider them humanaties answer to its own, rather ridiculous, superstitions.
The definition of what, exactly, makes a loa is a severe point of contention among religious and spiritual sages since it is completely unclear whether gods, goddesses, and primordials aren’t just powerful loa themselves. It is possible that all these entitities share a common type or ecology, in which Loa serve as lower lifeforms. Of course, it is also possible that the resemblance between Loa and other celestial forces is simply a function of mortal ignorance concerning the nature of these strange creatures. In usage, however, the term Loa can generally refer to one of three possible meanings: either immortal spirits that are below lesser gods in power, powerful spirits whether godlike or not which neither have nor desire a religious following, or spirits (some quite powerful) which do not seem to have sentience in the ways that mortals think of the term. House gods and nature spirits are often categorized as Loa (by those who do not think of them as gods). It is also clear that Loa include lesser spirits that serve gods, avatars of gods, and creatures of other origin.
Whatever its theoretical possibilities, it’s important to note that the spirits themselves, disparate as they might be, generally designate themselves as Loa. Whatever its definition, then, it is not just a category imposed upon the creatures by sages and mortals.
Loa can not die, and thus, Loa do not fear death. This, however, does not mean that Loa are not capable of suffering physical destruction. In general, Loa interact with the world by taking physical form. This form may be constant for the Loa (a troll in a haunted glade, for instance) or it can vary (according to rules unavailable to human sages). A number of Loa seem to have been killed by mortals, but seem to still exist in a way that is appreciable only to the Loa themselves. It is clear, for instance, that Loa have a relationship to time which the mortal experience is inadequate to comprehend. Loa seem to exist always so long as they have existed ever. Thus, though Loa may recognize a present moment of conception, their existence predates that conception. Now and then, cause and effect: these terms seem to carry different meanings inside the Loa’s experience.
The Thane Wizards hold that Loa are gods trapped in the past by the death of the Titan Chron. Thus, humans encountering the Loa are actually operating in a past moment. The logic of the transformation of time is probably a thing best left to the Thane, but one obvious repurcussion seems to be that Loa are most active in areas that are no longer ascendant. The ruins of Aversill, for instance, are said to be overrun by evil spirits, which most sages think of as Loa. At the same time, Loa are often encountered in the uncharted wilds of Allusia where no human kingdom has ever been.
An Example and Examination of a Loa: The thing in the Tunnel
After uncovering an escape route out of an underground gladatorial arena, a group of adventurers stumbled upon a natural cave that had been incorporated into the tunnel system. The cave was the home of a Loa who had waited there since the beginning of time and who would wait there forever after. Appeased by the owner of the gladatorial arena, it stayed silent as his agents used the cave—sometimes inspiring creepy feelings, but little else. When intruders entered the cave and happened upon the Loa without paying respects, the Loa became a mob of skeletons and attacked. Defeating the skeletons did not necessarilly defeat the Loa, nor did it prevent the Loa from becoming a mob of skeletons later.
To an ignorant observer, the Loa in the tunnel does not exist, the skeletons do, but then where did the skeletons come from? The Loa’s power in this situation is immense, but it seems very localized: it can summon an infinite number of skeletons, but it doesn’t, and it can only summon them in the tunnel (or at least that’s the only place it has, thus far, summoned them). The Loa in this case, then, is extremely powerful, but also extremely limited. It appears to be like a god in one capacity, and not in another. If it is a god, then it is the god of some cave that has otherwise evaded human habitation (which seems unlikely that such places could foster a god), but it, nonetheless, reacts as a god to the favor of the kingpen of the gladatorial games.