When you upgrade the ASDF running in your Lisp image
from an ancient ASDF 2 or older to ASDF 3 or newer,
then you may have to re-configure ASDF.
If your configuration only consists in
using the source-registry and output-translations (as it should),
and if you are not explicitly calling
asdf:initialize-output-translations with a non-nil argument,
then ASDF will reconfigure itself.
Otherwise, you will have to configure ASDF 2 (or older) to find ASDF 3,
then configure ASDF 3.
Notably, *central-registry* is not maintained across upgrades from ASDF 2.
See note about ASDF reconfiguration after upgrade.
Problems like this may be experienced if one loads Quicklisp (which as of this writing bundles an obsolete ASDF version 2.26), upgrades ASDF, and then tries to load new systems. The correct solution is to load the most up-to-date ASDF you can, then configure it, then load Quicklisp and any other extension. Do not try to upgrade from ASDF 2 after loading Quicklisp, for it will leave both ASDF and Quicklisp badly misconfigured. For details see the discussion at the above cross-reference.
Also, if you are experiencing such failures due to Quicklisp shipping an ancient ASDF, please complain to Zach Beane about it.