From what I understand, in Dark Sun, Defilers can destroy the plants around them to make their magic more powerful. If a Defiler from Athas somehow ended up in another material plane (don't care which, don't care how) could they use the abundant life energy to power their spells? Or, does Defiling only work on Athas due to the Weave or something else?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi LyreCode, welcome to rpg.se! Take the tour and visit the help center for more information. Just an FYI the dungeons-and-dragons tag you used if for question about any editions of D&D. If you intended to ask about a specific edition you should use the precise system tag. Either is fine for this question, just letting you know in case you weren't aware. Good luck and happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Sep 17, 2020 at 5:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/152866/… seems particularly pertinent here. It's not quite a duplicate, but the answers do include pertinent information not currently included in the one posted answer to this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Sep 17, 2020 at 15:24

3 Answers 3


It is likely that they can use it elsewhere, subject to DM's approval!

The 2e version of defiling and preserving is mechanically complex and hence during the 3e period, WotC's official Dragon magazine provided updated defiling rules in the issue 315, published in January 2004. On page 35, we read:

You can easily use the defiler magic system in a game that doesn't take place on Dark Sun's world of Athas ... If you use these rules in a campaign world you've created yourself; you should make some adjustments ... As presented in this article, the defiler magic system assumes that vegetation is hard to come by and that defilers live hunted or secret lives. If you eliminate either of those factors, you might make defiling magic more powerful, so you might want to add some more costs to the system.

So it feels like the authors were not necessarily forbidding the use of defiling magic outside of Athas. This general "mood" is also supported in some other publications, as you can read on the following related (reverse) question: Does non-Athasian magic work on Athas?


They can only use Defiler Magic on Athas, however...

They could still possibly use magic, but it will be from an alternate source, as they will find themselves unable to harness the same energy from the environment as they did on their homeworld. It's possible they might need to 'attune' themselves to the way magic functions in their host realm, and relearn spells. Because a Defiler is defined by their mentality, (having no regard for how their magic effects the environment,) they would still be considered a Defiler, and might attract the patronage of evil powers for spellcasting.

According to the official Dark Sun 3rd edition pdf

On Athas, the energy for wizardly magic doesn’t come from some extradimensional source as it does on other worlds, but from the living environment itself. It provides great power to those who can gather and shape it, though the cost to Athas can be beyond measure. In recent times wizards have emerged who have learned to draw energy from alternate sources that have no impact on the environment,

The fandom wiki entry on Defilers, from 2nd edition states that

On Athas, magic and the ecosystem are irrevocably bound —no one, not even a wizard, can affect one without affecting the other.

All wizards must decide at the beginning of their careers whether they are trying to work with nature or without regard for it. In Dark Sun, if they decide to work without regard for it, it means the wizard must be a Defiler.

So, magic on Athas is unique. The natural world has become so infused, that it's a viable source of power to be cultivated, harnessed, and exploited.

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    \$\begingroup\$ note that the wiki entry is clearly wrong, as your other quote shows. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17, 2020 at 7:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ How so? They both state that typical wizard magic utilizes energies tied into the ecosystem of Athas, and some have learned to use an alternative. It also says that most other worlds have magic originating from an extradimentional space, (aka the Weave) \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Sep 17, 2020 at 7:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ 'In recent times wizards have emerged who have learned to draw energy from alternate sources that have no impact on the environment,' 'On Athas, magic and the ecosystem are irrevocably bound —no one, not even a wizard, can affect one without affecting the other.' I don't know how to be clearer than that... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 17, 2020 at 8:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is the exception to the norm, and is in reference to Prestige Classes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Sep 17, 2020 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ The wiki info is also from 2nd edition, whereas the first quoted source is from 3rd. However, they are both referencing magic on Athas. Some draw upon the blazing sun for power, while others harness the spirit of the cerulean storm, rather than the plants and animals. In both examples, the sources are still part of the ecosystem, but the impact from that power draw is negligible. \$\endgroup\$
    – Aaron
    Sep 17, 2020 at 9:10

In "Player's Option: Spells & Magic" book, there is optional systems of magic presented as alternative to the traditional system.

The defiler/preserver system is one of them, and the author suggests:

While defilers and preservers may seem to be inextricably tied to the world of Athas, there’s no reason the DM couldn’t introduce this system of magic into any campaign.

About alternatives systems, he also writes:

In this section, we’ll take a look at several variant magic systems that use the spell point mechanics to create entirely different methods of using arcane powers. For example, many books in fantasy literature assume that channelling magical power through a character’s mind and body is a dangerous and exhausting exercise; a character can cast spells as long as his stamina holds out. With these optional systems, a magic system that mirrors this traditional approach can be integrated into an AD&D campaign.

When he says 'integrated', I believe Ad&d 2e (at least with Player's Options rules) could work with different systems of magic at the same time. So, a mage from Toril would have problems to cast a spell in Athas (and had to learn to tap energy from life) because there was restricted sources of magic specific to that world, but a defiler in Toril should devastate plant life at easy, since the wizards there did not learned to tap life energy because they had Mystra's source in abundance, but the life energy is there available.


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