Distant Vistas is a sci-fi game resource, primarily designed with the Game Master in mind. It contains a number of pre-designed items that can be slotted into numerous sci-fi systems. This ranges from weapons and technology to space fleets and solar systems. Each one is described and illustrated with wording that is vague enough to be translated into any system’s game mechanics but detailed enough to make that translation easier. At first glance much of content seems almost too simple, but after reading the different descriptions, you begin to picture how those items could fit into your own setting. Add to this the variety of the content and a GM can find great value within these pages.
Distant Vistas is not a supplement about options. It is a supplement dedicated to providing quick and easy source material for GMs in a hurry or simply stuck during adventure or campaign creation. It encompasses such a huge part of sci-fi game experiences that you’d be hard pressed to not find at least one thing (if not twenty) that you can use for a game you are running or one you plan to run. I myself found probably 40 different items I would like to either use directly or indirectly by farming them for new ideas. To make itself even more useful, you can easily print out each piece of content that you intend to use as everything is detailed on 1 or 2 pages with most being on a single page. This is a great tool for any GM.
Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
Distant Vistas has a great visual appeal, good looking illustrations, and an easy-to-read presentation. The layout may not be ideal as every detailed item is listed in alphabetical order. This requires the GM to flip through the entire book to find the types of items they’re looking for rather then being able to quickly navigate to a specific section (such as spaceships or solar systems) which contain that piece that is to be added to their setting. This is even more critical considering the volume of content, lack of table of contents, and lack of appendix. To overcome this, each item does contain a set of keywords at the top to grab the eye. However, you still have to read through the entire book to find every entry with the one keyword you’re looking for.
Mechanics: no rating
As a universal product, Distant Vistas does not contain any in-game mechanics.
Value Add: 9 out of 10
Distant Vistas is filled with a huge amount of excellent sci-fi content. It’s so easy to cherry pick through it and extract not only a large number of items but a large variety as well. You can take an existing campaign and spice it up with a new race or let the PCs set sail into a new solar system with detailed planets. You almost have to read through Distant Vistas twice. The first time you read it allows you to see what is detailed. The second time you get a sense of what fits together and what can be combined to create more new ideas. However, what makes this supplement truly valuable is its variety. There so many different aspects of a sci-fi adventure that any small or even large gap can easily be filled with one or more pieces within Distant Vistas. This value is increased for sandbox and space opera settings.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Some GMs need a helping hand when creating an adventure campaign. It can happen often in a sci-fi game where the PCs follow a direction you did not anticipate. To grab content on the fly, there are supplements like Distant Vistas that has numerous pieces of source material to fill those gaps and keep your games going. It’s a definite asset to any Game Master’s library.