The Man in Black is set in the far future. The known part of the galaxy is ruled with an iron fist by the United Federation of God (UFG or Federation for short). This is a repressive regime that preaches a radical (and fascist) form of Christianity.
Technologically, the Federation is far ahead of our time. A form of jump drive has been invented which works by travelling through higher-dimensional worm-holes created by the ship's jump drives. Creating these worm-holes is a very precise science. An error of a few metres in positioning the opening at one end could leave the other end millions of kilometres away from the target point and usually in the heart of the local star!
In order to make the very precise calculations needed, the jump needs to be made free from any local gravitational well (which makes the already complicated calculations impossible), ie in free space, well away from planetary systems. This means that although a jump is virtually instantaneous, it takes several days to go between the jump point and the destination, making space travel a time-consuming business.
Alhough very small jump drives exist, a minimum size of ship is set by this need to get from the jump point to a planetary system. Furthermore, the larger the ship, the more economic it is, since overheads per ton of cargo are smaller. A small, jump-capable ship has almost all of its space taken up with the jump drives and the conventional propulsion system, leaving little room for cargo. As a result, most vessels are massive bulk carriers or small couriers which carry vital cargoes for those who can pay.
A further restriction is that the vast majority of ships cannot enter atmospheres, since the weight of the necessary shielding reduces the cargo they can carry. As a consequence they must dock at the Federation-run orbital space stations, where their cargoes are moved onto smaller shuttles for transport around the system.
Most space travel is in the form of cargo - people don't often travel and when they do, it's usually on business. If you do have to travel, unless you or your company can afford a courier or private yacht, you will find yourself on a cargo ship. Even the smallest cargo vessel will have a cabin or two set aside for paying passengers, while the larger ships on the well-travelled routes may have a whole deck dedicated to the paying public.
With the exception of a few small freelance operators, all shipping is carried out by large companies. Space flight, like everything else, is under the strict control of the Federation military which has a large Navy to back it up.
This is a universe in which the state has almost absolute power. Its citizens are under constant surveillance and dissent is swiftly dealt with. All media are under control of the Federation and every avenue of life is strictly regulated. Even money is tightly controlled, with all transactions carried out by electronic cash transfer, making it difficult to hide anything from the Authorities.
Life is bland and boring. Virtually all food is synthetically produced, grown as vegatable protein in vast laboratories and artificially flavoured and textured. "Real" food, whether animal or vegatable, is both a luxury and highly illegal. Despite this, most people live contented lives: they know no better and even if they did, there is little they can do about it.
There are, of course, a few who are not content with this way of life, and they end up out on the fringes of the Federation where life is less rigidly controlled by the Authorities. One such place is the Jericho system.
Jericho is different. Nominally part of the Federation, it is actually run by the giant mining corporation, White Sands. It is on the fourth planet of this system, imaginatively named Jericho-4, that the game is set, in a bar called The Man in Black. The bar is next to Jericho-4's main spaceport, from where the smaller inter-planetary shipping plies its trade about the system and where you can get a shuttle up to the main (Federation) orbital space station. Here the big, inter-steller ships dock and you can get passage out of the system.
The name, The Man in Black, rings a bell in the minds of all but the most blinkered citizens of the Federation. Although there are no official reports of him, virtually everyone in the Federation has heard of The Man in Black. He is the galaxy's most deadly assassin, never known to fail in a job, or so they say, and with a reputation that is almost unbelievable.
He is known as The Man in Black and that is his calling card, a man dressed all in black, with a large, black hat, who turns up out of nowhere, kills his target and then just melts away into the shadows. No-one knows who he is and no-one even seems to know how to contact him. You simply just let it be known that you want his services and then he finds you.