Which begs the question, what about cyborgs? If Mutation is one path of Post-Humanity, shouldn’t there be a faction devoted to cybernetics? Well, yes. The problem is that cybernetics (outside of modded content) aren’t being made anymore - what’s out there is what there is. Retrieved from labs, carved from the living dead, found in basement hideaways or doctor’s offices, among the possessions of deceased miners, it’s a treasure hunt with limited resources.
Unless, that is, someone can change that. Which brings us to another faction idea…
Dinochrome Brigade - Taking their name from an old set of sci-fi novels about intelligent tanks, the Dinochrome Brigade are a surviving unit of combat cyborgs and support personnel (engineers, medics, etc.). They were deployed late in the Cataclysm, and went AWOL (politely) after realizing what a gigantic cluster**** the world was becoming. They found a bunker/installation/missile silo/whatever that still had functional power and equipment, but had fallen to the undead and netherium-based horrors. Bad fight for normals, not so for a good sized contingent of 'borgs. They secured the site with minimal casualties, and pondered their next move. In the meantime, they picked up a few stragglers from other combat groups and law enforcement personnel who survived the chaos, and a few random survivors.
We probably wouldn’t have heard about them at all if not for the Old Guard. They came into contact with the Old Guard via one of the few surviving comm satellites, and after a few…misunderstandings…were cleared up regarding their status, the Guard tasked them with a mission. Basically, they’re supposed to both stabilize the New England region as much as possible, and recruit militia members to reinforce the depleted troop ranks. They have authorization to augment their recruits as well, and the secondary objective they’re working towards is to get equipment to manufacture CBMs again.
Obviously this faction would be friendly with both the Old Guard and the Free Merchants, and neutral to everyone except the Hell’s Raiders and the Marloss Evangelists (one are bandit filth, the other have turned traitor to humanity). They wouldn’t like the Darwin’s Razor folks, but would consider them less of a problem than the Marloss servants until such a time as the former were dealt with. You’d be looking at a combat-heavy faction with large sets of cybernetics and lots of weaponry, but other than their initial fortifications not too much in terms of a tech base. They’d have a couple Autodocs, and a fair stock of anesthetic and basic CBMs, but not a lot more than that.
Missions for them would be retrieval of equipment and components to allow them to get CBM manufacture (even limited manufacture) up and running again. That would take players deep into labs, military bases, and other nasty places to retrieve things. After a long and involved quest chain, a merchant option would open up for CBMs (small stock, like the Hub, but could have anything) and certain grades of weaponry and ammunition (salvaged or made on site). Might eventually allow purchase of Rivtech caseless ammo in small quantities as well, just to make Rivtech guns less frustrating.
The amount of work to put in for it doesn’t remove the risk factor of getting CBMs - it’s actually easier to get them from lab diving and such. But it does allow an alternate angle to pursue them, and allows the player to feel like they’re contributing to actually allowing humanity to survive in the longer term (much like the Free Merchants quest lines). And maintenance levels of end-game gear supplies are a good reward for lots of walking into the sharp end of the Cataclysm.