The Mark of Tyranny
“The Oasis was surrounded by corpses, humanoid and beast. Curiously, the water was clear and blue, and seemed safe to drink. Commanded a bride to taste it. Autopsy notes follow.” Nibenay on his studies of Defiling Magic.
Magic on Athas comes at a terrible cost. In order to use arcane magic, the energy required to cast spells must come from a living being. While more ethical spellcasters let the power come from their own life force, this limits the power of their spells, since they cannot exceed their own life force. That’s where defilers come in.
Universally reviled, defilers draw their power from the plants, animals, and people that surround them. This is frequently enough to kill the victim, and it’s not unusual to find entirely dead areas where defiliers reside, every plant, animal, and insect sucked dry of life.
Defiling magic is not without it’s risks though. The party met an eladrin in the elven district of Tyr, who kept his face and hands hidden behind red cloth. When the party agreed to help him with some tasks, he revealed himself as scarred and rotting, due to his reliance on defiling magic to sustain himself.