Now, I'm far from an expert in such matters, but it seems to me that, given both the destruction wrought by nuclear warfare (or worse) and 150 years without human habitation, power supplies, or regular maintenance, there wouldn't be many ruined cities left for the PCs to explore. There are plenty of examples in the real world of cities that were simply abandoned by human beings and, within fairly short order -- we're talking mere decades -- they've literally fallen to pieces. Add a century or two of neglect into the equation and it seems likely to me that Gamma World or The Morrow Project characters aren't likely to find the recognizable ruins of many cities.
I don't fault anyone for wanting to ignore stuff like this. I don't think it's necessary that post-apocalyptic games should be any more "realistic" with regards to ecology than fantasy games, though I do think there's something to be said giving more thought to such questions. Back when I used to play Gamma World regularly, I very much liked to portray the post-fall society as a "clean slate." Sure, there were some remnants of the Old Days kicking around, mostly heavily-protected subterranean vaults, but most of the surface of North America had reverted to Nature, albeit a radiation-fueled Mutant Nature. That gave me a lot of freedom to create new settlements, societies, and cultures without worrying too much about how -- or if -- they mapped on to what had been extant 150 years previously.
Of course, the real reason so many post-apocalyptic settings, including those in RPGs, don't pay much heed to the effects of time and tide on the works of Man is that a big part of the appeal of these games are their references to contemporary people, places, and events. Moreso than most science fiction, post-apocalyptic tales are ready-made to comment on the present, particularly its foibles and vices. To present a post-apocalyptic world where one's character is not only ignorant of the past -- our world -- but likely to see very little evidence of its existence takes some of the fun out of the genre for a lot of people.
Besides, it's not as if having famous landmarks survive Armageddon is any less plausible than intelligent ape-men and most of us scarcely raise an eyebrow over their existence, right?
|You maniacs! You blew it up!|