Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy

Mark of the Fool: A Progression Fantasy

by UnstoppableJuggernaut

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

After his parents died, Alex Roth had a plan: become a wizard. Through hard work, he was accepted into the world’s greatest university of wizardry—but fate had another plan.

On his eighteenth, he is marked as one of his kingdom’s five Heroes, chosen to fight the land’s great enemy. But his brand is 'The Fool', worst of the marks.

Rather than die or serve the other Heroes like Fools in the past, he packs up his little sister, his childhood friend and her cerberus, then flees for the university in hope of refuge, magic and to unravel the truth about his land’s evil.

There’s one small problem: The Mark tries to ruin magic while enhancing skills outside of divinity, combat and spellcraft.…

…that is, unless he can learn to exploit the hell out of it.

*****

This the first time I am writing a web novel type story, and I hope you like it. I like progression stories and I've always wanted to try and write one like a few of the web novels that inspired me.

Updates Tues-Wed-Thur-Fri-Sat.

There are currently 20 advanced chapters on my patreon as a thank you to patrons.

Join us on discord! https://discord.gg/A4M3CzfWBn

Chapters will be roughly 2000-2500 words.

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

***

Rating: This story is kind of like a PG-13 movie. There'll be gore and some swearing but not much beyond that. If that changes, I'll warn you. 

Tone: Tone will be a mix of some action-adventure with excitement, comedy, slice of life elements and mystery. I won't be going too dark with this story. There will be mentions of war, some death, grief and violence.

MC: MC is analytical/rational with emotions. He is mostly in control of those emotions. MC will progress in power, eventually becoming very strong. When that happens, I'll add the Strong Lead tag.

Fights: Fights will be detailed.

***

Stuff this story won't have:

- Extreme grimdark content

- Murderhobo plots

- Edgy, anti-hero MC 

- Pacifist MC

- Harems

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
Chapter 1: Fools and Inheritance ago
Chapter 2: Uldar's Legacy ago
Chapter 3: The Mark's Mocking Grin ago
Chapter 4: Departure and Dogs ago
Chapter 5: The Coins and the Priests ago
Chapter 6: Coin Tricks and Fire Light ago
Chapter 7: Good Dreams and Bad Luck ago
Chapter 8: The Chosen ago
Chapter 9: Telling the Truth ago
Chapter 10: Red Eyes in the Dark ago
Chapter 11: The Goddesses' Wrath ago
Chapter 12: The Traveller's Magic ago
Chapter 13: Walls and Keys ago
Chapter 14: The Sanctum of Doors ago
Chapter 15: The Hive-Queen ago
Chapter 16: The Core ago
Chapter 17: Out into the Light ago
Chapter 18: Using What You Have (Interlude) ago
Chapter 19: The Red Siren ago
Chapter 20: Cookies and Dances ago
Chapter 21: The Spear-and-Oar Dance ago
Chapter 22: Tests by Moonlight ago
Chapter 23: The Nightwatch ago
Chapter 24: Other Dangers ago
Chapter 25: The City at the Center of Creation ago
Chapter 26: Wonders in the Sky ago
Chapter 27: Negotiations in the Hall of Magic ago
Chapter 28: Welcome Home ago
Chapter 29: Selecting One's Path ago
Chapter 30: The Means of Survival ago
Chapter 31: The Chancellor ago
Chapter 32: Responsibility and Paths Forward ago
Chapter 33: The Beastarium ago
Chapter 34: A Clash of Beasts ago
Chapter 35: The Beginning Fruits of Failure ago
Schedule going forward (Today's chapter right after this) ago
Chapter 36: Dummies and Forceballs ago
Chapter 37: The Spell-Joust and the Second Spell ago
Chapter 38: An Endless Forest (Interlude) ago
Chapter 39: The Beginning of Baelin's Test ago
Chapter 40: The Plain of Dust ago
Chapter 41: Predators ago
Chapter 42: Ambushing the Ambushers ago
Chapter 43: The Escarpment ago
Chapter 44: The Bonedrinker ago
Chapter 45: Lessons and Gods ago
Chapter 46: A Pie Party ago
Chapter 47: The Path of Potions ago
Chapter 48: The Art of Asking Questions ago
Chapter 49: The First Classes ago
Chapter 50: Familiar Encounters ago
Chapter 51: Help Wanted ago
Chapter 52: Manipulating Mana and Mind ago
Chapter 53: The World Opening to the Senses ago
Chapter 54: Safety in The Cells ago
Chapter 55: Reflecting on Different Paths ago
Chapter 56: Naming and Sculpting Futures ago
Chapter 57: Terrain and Entourages ago
Chapter 58: Planning Around the Mana Vents ago
Quick Announcement: Patreon Chapters Increased for Higher Tiers ago
Chapter 59: Group Dynamics ago
Chapter 60: Wrangling the Herd ago
Chapter 61: Trust ago
Chapter 62: Glyphs and Quicksilver ago
Chapter 63: Unsafety in the Cells ago
Chapter 64: Benefits of the Talented ago
Chapter 65: Armwrestling Wizard's Hand ago
Chapter 66: The Summoning ago
Chapter 67: Beyond the Material World ago
Chapter 68: The Devil that You Know... ago
Chapter 69: Expanding Perspectives ago
Chapter 70: Different Paths in Life ago
Chapter 71: Gains in Mass and Mana ago
Chapter 72: For and Against Pride ago
Chapter 73: A 'Handy' Breakthrough ago
Chapter 74: Ghosts of the Past I (Interlude) ago
Chapter 75: Ghosts of the Past II (Interlude) ago
Chapter 76: The Path Alone ago
Chapter 77: Fire and Coils ago
Chapter 78: Many Hands Make Light Work ago
Announcement: Final Patreon Tier and Top Web Fiction ago
Chapter 79: An Elemental Battle ago
Chapter 80: Pack Tactics ago
Chapter 81: Fire and Midterms ago
Chapter 82: Challenge ago
Chapter 83: A Mana Monster ago
Chapter 84: Growing Bonds ago
Chapter 85: Chancellors, Ships and Priests ago
Chapter 86: Pirate Tales and Dances ago
Chapter 87: A Fine Evening and Anxious Morning ago
Chapter 88: The Interview ago
Chapter 89: Honours ago
Chapter 90: Isolde's Pressure ago
Chapter 91: The Rally ago
Chapter 92: The Demons ago
Chapter 93: The Chancellor's Power ago
Chapter 94: The Weight of Secrets ago
Chapter 95: The First Meeting of the Cabal ago
Chapter 96: Taking a Chance ago
Chapter 97: Ram's Forceful Guidance ago
Chapter 98: The Cleansing Movements ago
Chapter 99: Family Time ago
Special Announcement: Discord Server! ago
Chapter 100: The Masks that are Worn ago
Chapter 101: Nostalgic Recipes and Warnings ago
Chapter 102: The Festival of Ghosts ago
Chapter 103: Opportunities and Exams ago
Chapter 104: Golem Sculpting and the Sky-Ship ago
Chapter 105: Dryads ago
Chapter 106: The Stand-Off ago
Chapter 107: Haste and Lateness ago
Chapter 108: Secret Analysis ago
Chapter 109: Essence of Dungeon ago
Chapter 110: Preparing to do Horrifying Things ago
Chapter 111: Direction and Redirection ago
Chapter 112: Beneath the Barrens ago
Chapter 113: The Skeletal Ruins ago
Chapter 114: Names Left Behind ago
Chapter 115: Traps ago
Chapter 116: Creeping Doom ago
Chapter 117: Gateways and Redesigns ago
Chapter 118: Unreliable Lateness ago
Chapter 119: The Core's Properties ago
Chapter 120: Design Improvements ago
Chapter 121: Hunt-mania ago
Chapter 122: Rampage ago
Chapter 123: The Opportunist ago
Chapter 124: Lances, Cries and Shock ago
Chapter 125: The Impetus of Death ago
Chapter 126: Consultation and a Leap of Trust ago
Chapter 127: The Chancellor's Reaction ago
Chapter 128: A Proposition ago
Chapter 129: Allies ago
Chapter 130: Forging a Body and Plan ago
Chapter 131: Stealing the Enemy's Weapon ago
Chapter 132: The Forging ago
Chapter 133: The Hunters (Interlude) ago
Chapter 134: The Nest ago
Chapter 135: The Xyrthak ago
Chapter 136: A Cold Delivery ago
Chapter 137: Cuts, Teeth and Mana ago
Chapter 138: The Path of Proper Wizards ago
Chapter 139: Frozen Doors and Crooked Rectangles ago
Chapter 140: The Talk ago
Chapter 141: Rumble in the Alley ago
Chapter 142: A Hunger for Vengeance and Mana ago
Chapter 143: Escape and Hunting ago
Chapter 144: The Beating ago
Chapter 145: Preparing the Specimen ago
Chapter 146: The World's Worst Teabag ago
Chapter 147: The Siphoning ago
Chapter 148: Roth; or, The Magical Prometheus ago
Chapter 149: Hunters' Gathering (Interlude) ago
Chapter 150: Isolde's Dread ago
Chapter 151: Preparing for a Long-Awaited Party ago
Chapter 152: Reflections Under Moonlight ago
Chapter 153: A Dance of Minotaurs ago
Chapter 154: Shadows in the Garden ago

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Milo Goodell
Overall

The basic technical skills of the author are quite sound, which is why it's so baffling that everything else is so lackluster. 

It starts with a complete absence of character building -- we have no idea who Alex or his sister or his love interest are before they're jammed down our throat doing grand adventures. 

The exploitation of the Mark of the Fool is about as clever as kindergartener, and about as believable as one of them throwing magic spells around -- we're supposed to believe that no one else thought of aiming near but not at enemies? Give me a break. 

I wanted to like it. I hated it. 

Worst-answer
Overall

romance is to be avoided.

Reviewed at: Chapter 8: The Chosen

the story overall  seems quite cool, the settings, seems quite interesting.

my only issue is the romance subplot ,the author went through the cliche route, childhood friend, who force herself into mc party (who basically seems the archetype of young noble woman  who want adventure etc)

the author has basically  used the most boring possible route, it would have been more interesting  to see mc just escape with his sister... but nope....

this reinforce my idea, that short  of the romance, being interesting or important to the plot it is to be  avoided.

P.S i admit that the romance has pissed me off , so i rated this while being triggered, maybe i will increase it of half a star o maybe i won't not sure tbh.

Miss Corbyn
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

The fool refuse the Call:100th chapter anniversary

Reviewed at: Chapter 100: The Masks that are Worn

So, like many others novels and popular manga, our MC became the least popular hero out of a four heroes party that got branded every century or so.

However this is not a copy and past of the Rise of the Shield Hero.

Instead of getting angry at his misfortune, accepting his fate like a good boy or to go his own way to prove anyone else wrong, our MC simply decide not to answer the call and to go to a wizardry academy to fullfill his lifelong dream.

Giving himself the time to grow, he is slowly becoming overpowered, with the casual pace of a slice of life family-friendly story. This is totally something I would read to a seven years old kid as a bedtime story and yet, enjoy myself as an adult.

The characters have some depth build up over those 100 chapters so far, and while I was worried at first for the MC was the typical analitycal/rational MC at the start, he grew into something more than that and I'm rooting more for the MC now that I was at the start of this novel.

However, the main selling point of this novel isn't its original plot or its glowing characters but the style. Even if you never liked slice of life and slow-paced story, you might fall in love with this one for there is always something relevant and fun happening.

I don't know how much the author have thought about but each chapter is bringing something new to the table. So even if it's slow-paced, I think it would deserve to be called lore-rich. Whenever this story would reach its end and given its popularity, I think someone would have trouble making a comprehensive wiki about the novel world.

It has the potential to be as story-rich as Pathfinder and so far, we only had been visiting three cities with a main focus on Generasi, the Mage City, where must of the action is taking place. I could say that the lore might explode once the MC graduate from the sheer amount of details the authors is giving to us readers.

And the best part is that it doesn't feel like an overload of details either, just a springle of details from each chapter which is slowly growing into a thriving fantasy universe I would enjoy make my own D&D campaign.

As for the Grammar... sure there is some mistakes here and there but the author is really community driven so those mistakes are not lasting long. Plus, I'm not a native english speaker and I'm not a grammar facist so I don't have a single thing to say about Grammar. It sound good enough for me.

This is my celebration review for the 100th chapter anniversary. And so far, I have been pleasantly surprised that the author consistently kept the pace of about five chapters a week. This is really hard a feat to pull off so that much should be worth a little extra on the overall score.

I strongly recommend this novel. Enjoy.

And hopefully, see you on this novel next anniversary!

Clavita
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Unique take at a "chosen one" trope

Reviewed at: Chapter 49: The First Classes

 I really like this story. You can see how much thought the author put into every little part of it. Every chapter ends with a light cliffhanger that makes it rather hard to stop reading. Additionally the worldbuilding is phenomenal. All  descriptions are very natural and don't stop the flow of the story.

Grammar is pretty close to perfect. At no point did it influence my reading experience in a negative way.

The one thing that I can critique is character building. Especially in early chapters the characters don't seem... real, I guess.

The worst offender is MC love interest (although no romance actually happened yet) Theresa who is just a little too perfect. She makes MC look like a bumbling fool just by existing. It does get better though and by now I actively enjoy MC and his sister, and tolerate Teresa in small doses. 

When the MC gets to his destination we also meet an assortment of new characters, every one of them unique and a delight to read about.

The style is actually quite good and I don't have anything negative to say about that but it lacks that spark of character (or individualism, or whatever you would call it) that would make it stand out.

TL;DR I would recommend this story for it's interesting concept and breath taking worldbuilding but it really starts to shine (character-wise) about ch30

Rachando
Overall

Competently written, no outstanding errors or obvious word padding. I like the MC's cheat power's potential, the limitations and gaming them tickles my progression fantasy fancies.

Lacks a hook in the opening chapters to draw you in. Story and humor are fairly predictable. I like RPGs but the first dungeon arc was meh. Pacing is rather slow, entertainment vs word count was pretty low and I found it hard to keep reading. Dropped after 35 chapters.

Henry Furlow
Overall

The main idea of the five marks is intriguing. It is similar to other ideas of 'chosen ones', especially in isekai type stories, but the actual story and plot is much different from those. It mixes the 'chosen ones' idea with a type of plot where it is not normally used.

While there is not enough posted to flesh out the systems(magic/mark/etc.) used in the story it does seem like the basis for a somewhat unique blend of genres.

Cestarian
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Don't buy into the hype (It's quite decent tho!..)

Reviewed at: Chapter 71: Gains in Mass and Mana

I'm seeing a lot of reviews gush over this story, also seeing that most of those reviews were made within the first 30~ish chapters, the pacing kinda starts committing suicide around ch 20 and is mostly dead by chapter 30 which means you'll start really FEELING how dead it is by the time you get to chapter 40....

Which means past chapter 40~ish you'll start seeing the story's true colors after the much more interesting intro arc.

To put into perspective how the pacing dies with some (rather vague) spoilers

 it takes him 25 chapters to get to the city with the magic school (which he heads right to but it takes him like 3 chapters to take a taxi...)

Then he's pretty much just dicking around doing a bunch of nothing until around 40 chapters in, finally by 50 chapters in he's starting his first classes and by chapter 70 it finally feels like his first school year is in full swing...

That's 600+ pages of content, two novel's worth, for him to go from his hometown to magic school, and for him to start his first school year properly (still in the early school year! not like halfway through his first year or anything, no not even close! more like 2 weeks in!!!!)

For reference it took harry potter only about 300 pages to go from under a staircase to hogwartz, learn about the existance of magic, learn to do magic, go on a bunch of quests to find invisibility cloaks and fihgt trolls and whatnot and finish his first schoolyear!

 

The grammar is pretty decent, the style gets a star reduced for the dead pacing (and another star for just not bringing anything special to the table), and the characters again are pretty decent, I mean they're nothing special but at least they don't appear to be bending themselves over backwards to suit the narrative of the story, they all have some personality, even if it's all simple personalities.... It works.

But I have other issue with the story, which is why I rated the story so low, for one thing, there are some serious fallacies in there, the main premise of the story is that he gets a divine mark that grants him the ability to learn anything that is not magic, combat or holy shit; super freaking fast and become super freaking good at it with extreme ease... And it does this at least partially by just handing down the experiences of his predecessors who had the mark before him so he can learn from them (e.g. if another fool mastered a skill before him, he should be able to do it ridiculously easily)

But sometimes when it doesn't suit the author (cuz it'd accelerate the plot?) it's like he just forgets it's there. Like when he finally gets off his ass and starts exercising, his entire exercising routine consists of pushups, and he can only do 9 of them, and according to the author that's a heavy workout...

...

Which is absurd on so fucking many levels, I mean are you trying to tell me that no 'fool' before the protagonist ever had an exercise routine? Get outta here!

And not just that, but he also has this side character with him who is in good shape and clearly knows plenty about exercising right according to her character yet she doesn't see fit to correct that his ENTIRE exercise routine consist of only one exercise, and that one exercise isn't even something useful like running?!

She doesn't point out that maybe he should do squats too? or pullups?! Nor does his god-given superpower of deus ex machina~ism?

That's all just so absurd... (It highlights the author's lack of understanding of basic fitness, this is just an honest mistake obviously, the guy didn't do his research, didn't look into common fitness routines or anything, just went with whatever his own preconception of what exercise should be is, when clearly he's completely lacking knowledge on the subject, this mistake could be rectified by doing a little research and fixing it in his next draft... But I'm just trying to convey the idea of how infuriating some parts of the story can be... Especially since the author is smart enough to realize you can walk, breathe or run in a more 'right way', but the only thing about working out he appears to know is that you have to use the right form!)

And there's more, sometimes he's learning skills and seems to be able to do it almost instantaneously, other times it take shim weeks or months, there's no real consistency to it, it's just whatever floats the author's boat at the time of writing i guess.

 

-

 

But perhaps the story's biggest crime of all is blatant plagiarism (biggest reason for the low story score) I mean the guy has shoggoths and ancient ones just ripped right out of lovecraft's stories, just picks them up as they are and injects them into the story, also there are brief mentions of fairy tales from earth like snow white and a couple others (don't remember a specific one unfortunately) but it just sorta kills any sort of belief that this is supposed to be an original world; when there are so many things in it that are just ripped directly from other works of fiction and stuffed in there without even bothering to make changes to it at all.

I don't see a fanfic tag on this, this is not a call of cthulhu fanfic with a crossover to an original world, according to the tags, so why then.... does it have a crossover with call of cthulhu in it?

It's not cool, it's fucking lazy worldbuilding, worldbuilding via blatant plagiarism....

 

So no, this story is definitely not a 5/5, it doesn't deserve such a rating, and it is being quite significantly overhyped...

It is definitely being overhyped and you shouldn't raise your expectations too much...

But it is in the end quite an enjoyable read if you can look past it's major flaws, I'm enjoying it a lot more than I ever enjoyed defiance of the fall (which was a guilty pleasure until the quality dropped beyond the point where there was any sort of pleasure to be had, the quality deterioration rate of this story is significantly slower than in dotf at least so there's that)

It's a decent story to sink your time into when you have nothing better to read. wait a couple months to let the chapters pile up before you binge read them like 30 at a time or something.

I must give credit where credit is due though, the pacing of the story may be shit, like seems to be par for the course when it comes to webnovels, but the release rate of chapters is nothing short of superb. and if the author can keep that up without burning himself out then I will most certainly be returning to this story on a regular basis.

It's not so bad that I would call it guilty pleasure either, no, despite everything it's a mostly guilt free pleasure, that's the best part! I still enjoy reading it...

But unless I get like at least 5 chapters at a time, I will not be satisfied because the pacing is just so slow that if  Ijust read one or two chapters at a time it'll feel like nothing really happened and that's something I try to avoid feeling.

Ultimately what keeps me interested here is that the premise coupled with the main plot it creates is quite interesting in my opinion. I recommend giving it a shot if you're interested, but if you're looking for a masterpiece, this ain't gonna be it.

Breelik
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

This stories protagonist isnt the MC not by design

Reviewed at: Chapter 1: Fools and Inheritance

The story and characters are good for the most part. Most other reviews cover the weird plot contrivances. I will be talking about where they come from as most reviews seem to not mention it.

Spoiler :
The character theresea makes all the decisions and is pretty mmuch a hero in shining armor getting the mc out of trouble. it seems super forced and honestly makes me feel that shes the mc , and we get to watch from the eyes of some childhood friend who just like any good coat hanger harem member just goes along with it. The character Theresea is the main source of the plot contrivances. Example shes the one who conveniently saves mc with bug repellent idea that just seems far fetched but not only works ,but is a serious plot point that saves their asses several times. Even when the mc is given a moment to shine her character is always there to remind you that NONE of it would work without her because some how she always ends up playing a key role in so the fact mcs idea didn't really do anything other than provide her an opportunity to do whatever it is she does best case scenario for mc. Example when mc has the idea to destabilize the portal so lava or whatever can fall on spider lady forgive me I don't quite remember the details ,but point is it didn't really do anything somehow ,and Theresea after having seemingly resigned to their fate pulls of some real grade a wuxia protagonist bs and finishes the spider queen lady. I was very hopeful when it seemed like the mc was about to separate from the protagonist Theresea and his sister ,but again she steers the plot away from such a wonderful Theresealess story. Never have I read a story that is so good at evoking the negative emotion that I can only describe as what it would feel like to be cucked as this one for lack of better words!
All that being said Im going to attempt another crack at it for all that I might accomplish will just make me seem like a masochist.

 

CastleBravo
Overall

Ch. 26 at time of writing, and for me this deserves to be in the "promoted" or whatever it's called section of the site. MC has a real problem, but adversity has taught him the correct lessons to "think, adapt, survive" in any situation.

Lots of room for conspiracies, action, magic, and I like what I've seen so far. 

JasonFantastico
Overall

My major problems with this story is that the author has fallen into the trap of having an MC who everyone likes and admires and is impressed by and who excelss easily at everything he tries. Multiple scenes exist for no other reason than just to have someone in authority marvel at how amazing he is and tell him he is great. Anyone who doesn't like the MC or who finds him annoying is automatically a bad guy and anyone who is a good guy loves him. There is not a single example of a decent and kind person who just finds him annoying or even is just maybe not that amazed by his incredibleness. It's a common problem but still it's kind of annoying how far it's being taken here. 

Other minor issues include the author's frequent use of italics for emphasis in weird ways that don't make any sense, and having a hero go to "magic school" and ace literally every single test in every single class and instantly grasp every esoteric subject he's presented with fully from his first day.

A major gripe of mine which may or may not bother you is that the author frequently, like once a chapter, includes some in-joke that is not funny and only serves to take you completely out of the fantasy and remind you that what you're really reading is someone's exercise in convincing other people how clever they are. Things like the MC fantasizing about Star Wars, his sister fantasizing about Harry Potter, mentioning fictional charaters from other works by name etc. Like his sister wonders if they use a hat to sort wizards with, it's that level of twee nonsense. It's just really immersion breaking and I don't like it.

Anyway in small doses this is very readable and enjoyable. When the author can find his way out of the "Everyone loves my MC" trap the story is entertaining, he just can't seem to stay out of it for long. It starts really well and after about 8 good chapters gets stuck in that but the last few published chapters have broadened the focus to include other characters besides the MC, characters the author doesn't want you to worship, and that has helped the overall readability quite a bit. The last chapter has established a foil for the hero that is both novel and interesting, and is probably the best-written chapter in a month so my hope is that the author sort of grows out of this obession with his MC being a wunderkid who can do it all, and introduces some actual challenges for the hero to overcome or maybe even fail to overcome. That would be more interesting than the unbroken string of magnificient successes we've been presented with so far. 

So i guess what I'm trying to say is that it starts out good and gets a little twee and it seems like it might be getting good again so stay tuned.