Arcane Magic Defiles the World

The reckless use of arcane magic during ancient wars reduced Athas to a wasteland.

To cast an arcane spell, one must gather power from the living world nearby. Plants wither to black ash, crippling pain wracks animals and people, and the soil is sterilized; nothing can grow in that spot again.

It is possible to cast spells with care, avoiding any more damage to the world, but defiling is more potent than preserving. As a result, sorcerers, wizards, and other wielders of arcane magic are generally reviled and persecuted across Athas regardless of whether they preserve or defile.

Only the most powerful spellcasters can wield arcane might without fear of reprisals.