Magic brought the world of Athas to ruin and transformed its gluttonous wielders in ways both great and terrible. The successful spellcasters among the power-mad gorged themselves on arcane lore and evolved—first into sorcerer-kings and then partly into dragons. Other dabblers in the arcane that succumbed to the temptation of easy power suffered more dire consequences. For these unenviable souls, defiling magic became a part of their being; far from raising them to new heights, it warped them physically and mentally into something debased—and ravenous.
The ravenous are defilers consumed by the very magic that they wield. Whatever made them human—or elf, dwarf, or other race—has been consumed and replaced by the need to defile until nothing living remains anywhere on Athas. Their ravaged bodies bear the marks of constant exposure to defiling magic, which has burned away their flesh in patches and left them hideous and gaunt. The people of Athas unfortunate enough to meet the ravenous might mistake them for undead creatures, such as liches or death knights, but they would be wrong; the ravenous still live.
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Rodney Thompson is an RPG designer at Wizards of the Coast, originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His credits for the Dungeons & Dragons game include Monster Manual 3, the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, and Monster Vault.