A skinny wisp of a chinese man attired in all the accoutrements of a gunslinger.
Cho is a thin man, although tall for a Chinese. His clothing was once relatively high quality for a gentlemen but hard miles wandering the West has made most of it threadbare and faded. He carries two impeccably maintained pistols, one on each hip although he will usually only draw one at a time, varying which hand depending on the skill of his opponent. Only the most dangerous of foes warrant both guns to be wielded simultaneously but Cho has focused considerable effort to make sure that when he does so his skills do not suffer.
To the casual obeserver Smokin’ Cho is of indeterminate age, his worn features could be that of a man of 40 or 60, it is hard to tell. One trait carried over from his life in China is that he is a man of few words, and when he does speak it tends to be proverbs or sayings that many find cryptic or (more commonly) infuriating.
While Cho has left behind his life as a martial artist many aspects of his personality remain unchanged. He still considers himself to be the champion of the common man, defending them against all abuses by those with power. He has spent over 100 years wandering the world righting wrongs and bringing down tyrants when he finds them. During this time he has established strong relationships with people the world over. Living or dead he is proud to still call them all friends and will until his dying breath. His willingness to confront injustices and loyalty to friends have gotten him into innumerable scrapes over the years. He doesn’t consider this a cost of friendship or the price for doing the right thing, rather he sees it as one of the greatest rewards for a life well lived. In this he can be considered an eternal optimist. Another aspect of Cho’s personality is that he has very little use for personal wealth and is overly generous with his money. As a result he invariably finds himself with little to no money, even if he was in possession of significant wealth from rewards earned just weeks before.
Cho Wei was born to a family of farmers who lived in the foothills of Mount Song in the Henan province during the early years of Emperor Qing Qianlong. Shortly after his fifth birthday his village was razed to make way for a imperial project to redirect a nearby river. During the “relocation” Wei’s parents led a peaceful protest over the destruction of their village. This proved disastrous as Imperial soldiers responded with a bloody purge and Wei was left without a family. Monks from the nearby Shao Lin temple found him roaming among the charred remains. Taking pity on the child he was brought to the temple and raised to be one of them. Cho took to the art of Kung Fu with an almost supernatural aptitude, eclipsing the abilities of all but the grand master himself within ten years. To the chagrin of the monks Wei’s ability to adhere to the monastic practices of the temple were the polar opposite of his Kung Fu talent. Every aspect of the Shao Lin teachings rubbed him the wrong way and instead of embracing the peaceful Buddhist lifestyle he regularly snuck out to pick fights with soldiers. Soon his antics began to bring unwanted attention to the temple, eventually forcing them to expel the young man before his 16th birthday. Wei began a wandering lifestyle, paying for his way by participating in duels against local bravos and champions wherever he went. Occasionally he would take money from local magistrates to deal with bandits, or more commonly from villagers to deal with an abusive local magistrate.
In time Wei’s experiences wandering China gave him time to reflect, and with that time to finally learn many of the lessons from the monks in his youth. He then began the passionate pursuit to raise his martial skills until it truly became an art. He sought to gain enlightenment by becoming a living embodiment of Kung Fu, every fiber of his being dedicated to this task. In time he became a legend in China, where he was known by the common folk as Snakefist due to the incredible speed of his hands. Hopeful students would follow him for months or even years hoping that he would form his own school, but he never did. He would only say “Everything that I would wish to teach must be learned from one’s own self. I would not rob you of this joy.” He was so successful in his pursuit of Kung Fu perfection that he finally entered an enlightened state of being and the ravages of time no longer affected him.
In 1839 he was drawn to the port city of Canton by rumors of growing conflict with the English and it was there that he first became aware that the Way of Kung Fu was destined to fade. The conflicts became the brief and bloody Opium Wars that demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt that the guns of the West would triumph over the martial arts of the East. For the first time in decades Wei felt sorrow and a twinge of regret over his chosen path. But one his defining characteristics on his path to enlightenment was his willingness to adapt to any opponent’s strength and to learn from every fight. And so Wei left China and began to wander the world, searching for another enlightened form of combat that drew on the powers of the West and technology. He traveled for many years before finally arriving in America and traveling to the western coast. There he finally found what he had been searching for in the gunfighters of the Wild West. He found a form of dueling with the gun that required a mastery of the physical realm as well as a total mastery of his own mind and that of the opponent.
Never one to do things by half measures, at that moment Wei put aside his martial arts forever. Never again would he wield the powers of Kung Fu for it was a thing of the past and certain to fade into history. The Gunfighter was the way of the future and he was determined to rise to the pinnacle of the art just as he had done before.
Certain aspects of becoming a gunfighter required extensive changes in Wei’s previously monastic lifestyle, but he embraced them wholeheartedly. Where once he would subsist on one mouthful of rice and water a day, he instead drank whiskey shots and ate heartily when his money allowed. In his previous life women were ignored as they represented a distraction, but to truly master the gunfighter’s life he learned to whore with the best of them. There was no part of the gunfighter lifestyle that he did not embrace and take to the most extreme level. This eventually led to his new nickname “Smokin’ Cho” because wherever he goes there is a slow burning cigarette in his mouth, drawn from a seemingly inexhaustible supply he carries on his person.
Smokin’ Cho has wandered the majority of the Western states and countries. He has dueled pirates and fought native tribesmen. In time his wanderlust led him north along the shattered California coast until he eventually found a wagon on its way to the town of New Opportunity. Once there he hopes to tuck into a bottle of Whiskey at the local watering hole, with nothing more in his future than taking the next step to enlightenment as a gunfighter.