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

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Reviews
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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

Drewfenschmirtz
Overall

Great premise, rest needs work

Reviewed at: Chapter 51: Help Wanted

I really like the premise for this one and I'm looking forward to how the author continues to deal with it.  That said, the characters all feel a bit off.  I think it's part dialogue and part decision making but I'm not much of a fan of how they interact.  I also think I just do not share a sense of humor with the author at all.

Strg
Overall

It's kinda okay-ish but feels like a lot of wasted potential. Keeps dragging on waaaay too much. Some parts are really confusing as to what is going on and how we got there. 

I am biased for this cause I hate the trope but sister and childhood friend are annoying and mostly useless... the eureka moments the child causes makes me go like: are you serious dude? You sure you got a brain in there?

if you like that trope you probably gonna enjoy it more than me. Grammar is good. Some details are intresting. I like the power the fool gets but the other heroes feel kinda lazy compared to it... like there is a theme going on and than the fool... so far it makes no sense why he is part of the hero party or why his power is so different from the others. I didn't read that far but there seems to be foreshadowing for another trope I hate so I'm out of here.

Also if that proves right it will make look one of the most retarded decisions the mc did seem like a good choice. Problem is he had no way of knowing it so it will just be dumb luck. From someone with the Think Adapt motto i'd expect a bit more.

Errant-Knight
Overall

It's only 4 chapters in but the story already has me hooked. Great pacing and the characters have a lot of depth. The plot is intriguing and I'm very interested in finding out the quirks of our Mcs 'gift' and if he is the only Fool to have figured it out so far or if there is a reason the others have not. 

If the quality of the story stays this good, it will likely become one of my all-time favorites and this site. Highly reccomend giving it a shot.

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. 

Houndmaster
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Mark of the Fool deserves its position in the top twenty, and at least five times its current following. In a span of ten chapters, the author has built a beautiful Universe, plenty of lore and introduced a loveable cast without info-dumping. That alone is a rare talent on Royal Road.

The prose is written in a rather classical style and flows beautifully. The narrative voice paints a beautiful picture of the protagonist's life and personality without overloading us with heavy introspection. The use of language and vocabulary is excellent too, and I can't find a fault in it.

Honestly, I don't know whether there are any grammatical errors in the prose. Not because I don't get English grammar, I have a decent understanding of it, but because the story entranced me to the point that I wasn't looking out for them. This also suggests there aren't jarring immersion-breaking issues, which is a major plus in my book.

Now, we get to the story. As of now, the plot is rather barebones, and the story feels more character-driven. We have the 'hero and his companions' trope in play and what looks like a future in a magic academy, but there isn't much going on besides that besides survival. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with that. The narration adds tension, the characters are colourful, and the dialogue is sharp. I'm happy to wait and see how the tail develops.

Finally, we get to where Mark of the Fool shines: the characters. We learn to hate Berrick in the opening and love our protagonist's nature. Then we meet the potential love interest, and she doesn't fit the stereotypes in most stories like this one. We got a stone-cold badass who the protagonist occasional pines over. The best part is, she has a Cerberus for a friend. That's right. She has a THREE-HEADED PUPPER. My username probably gives away my bias on this front. I'd like to see more dialogue from the little sister, though. She comes across as a level-headed young woman, and I'd love more character development there.

Overall: It's okay to be a fool. They're awesome, and you should read this.

Gaelen1227
Overall

The Worst Aspects of the Rat-Sphere

Reviewed at: Chapter 4: Departure and Dogs

I can at least say that the story is technically well written and readable. The main issues start cropping up once you get into an examination of the Fool's powers. He gets tripped up by self doubt and a cavalcade of all his mistakes when he tries edging in on the other heroes skills. Otherwise, he can preternaturally demonstrate mastery of skills. Fools are generally referred to as the hearts of the team. Basically Brock. From here, the world building shifts into taking a dump on the Fools. For some reason, everyone is just an absolute ass towards them. Heroes, betray them. Populace, deride them. It's like rising of the shield hero. 

The issue comes up that the protagonist circumvents and ignores every restriction in no time flat. It taps into every aggrandizing trope from the rationality sphere as fast as humanly possible. It's as if the author fears that having some sort of handicap last more than one chapter will drive their audience away.

In summary, it does a bad job of being a rational fic by tapping into all the worse attributes of the genre.

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.

HomicidalCutie
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Overall: The Mark of the Fool is a promising start to a story that brims with possibilities, expected and unexpected adventures, believable characters, and a complex if not interesting plight for our protagonist, Alex. Having just reached the age of eighteen, Alex inherited a substantial sum from his tragically departed parents, and had big plans to join a mage college and become a master mage himself. Unfortunately, fate, and the “perhaps not so helpful” god Uldar, had other plans.

Discovering he has been “cursed” with the Mark of the Fool our Protagonist determines not to allow Uldar or anyone else to decide his fate. History shows that the Fool often perishes fighting the great evil that summons the chosen Heroes into being. Rather than die fighting alongside a party who doesn’t need him, or possibly even before reaching them for the final fight, this “Fool” will learn to Master the Mark and use it to pursue his goals.

Style: The writing is crisp, fresh, and to the point. Now and then the use of : to connect sentences that didn’t always feel connected, or clear, cropped up but I can only think of two occasions in the six chapters I read.

Story: The worldbuilding and history were artfully introduced and never felt like unnecessary exposition. The plight and goal of the Protagonist are well defined—but, and this is my only “grief” with the story, 

his adaption and “overcoming” of the Mark’s drawbacks happened shockingly quick. Like…within minutes of discovering he even had this “curse” (as all Fool’s of the past no doubt perceived it).

 

To me, this delivered a premature “easy out” to what was the biggest conflict and hurdle our Protagonist is likely to face, at least as far as the first arc.

Is this being nitpicky? Possibly, and hopefully, other forms of conflict and setbacks will arise, but it did deflate my expectations of a more gradual progression of learning what the Mark was, how it worked, and how to overcome and even turn it into a benefit. Just thinking of the missed possibility here, only makes this sting all the more, hence this is the only area that does not receive a perfect score from me.

Grammar: Minor things here and there I barely noticed. Grammar is not my strong point either, but nothing that distracted me from the read.

Character: Alex, our Protagonist, is a solid optimistic, “self-made” ambitious young man. He is self-assured, as much as he is conscious of the responsibilities he faces as a young man looking after his younger sister, Selina. Theresa, his childhood friend (and likely romance partner), is a confident huntress, who is also confident, assured, and spirited in a way that makes you want her by your side in a fight. There is also Brutus, but I’ll leave that drawn-out surprise for the reader to discover on their own.

They are all very well presented, though I do wonder if they border on the edge of being “too perfect”. Looking back, I can’t really think of a flaw found in any of them. Perhaps Alex is a little too “smart” for his own good? Not really a drawback, more like what you expect for someone who taught himself a spell on his own to enter a mage academy.

Overall, this is definitely a story I will come back to enjoy, and I wish the author the best of luck finishing it so that I and many other RR readers may enjoy the journey herein.

Disclaimer: Please ignore my rambling comments and thoughts. Each story and its content is the work and property of the author, who knows better than I or any other reader the things to come and the careful planning of things not yet seen.