This looks fun, and since the UM RP section is dead right now, can I still join up? I'll also see if I can't drag one or two people who aren't still salty from over there, maybe.
In terms of low-population, my limited experience is that if you build it, and it's cool enough, people will trickle in.
I'd suggest we stick with New England as the setting. It's not hard to make a grid with google maps and photoshop, and I'd be happy to help. If you haven't thought of a 100% way of doing this, I'd suggest having a large "overview" map, as well as smaller scale maps representing certain areas of interest. Once again, Google maps makes that easy. Just a suggestion, if you haven't got that all figured out already.
Alternatively, Blitz suggested Duluth as the setting of something similar in a different RP a while back. While it would be a bit of a radioactive mess IRL, there's a pile of really neat potential resources, as well as access to the Great Lakes, within a relatively small area around it. That could be pretty cool as well.
Name: The Royal Canadian Dragoons, C Squadron (AKA The Min/Max Marauders)
Canada wasn't hit as hard as the US in the initial days of the Cataclysm, and while their American counterparts were busy suppressing riots with deadly force and covering up zombie incidents, the Canadians were typically going about some semblance of normal daily lives, the government either being left unaware of the reality of the problems the US was facing, or simply choosing to ignore the direction in which the events were headed. When shit really started to hit the fan, it was really too late to do anything - by the time the last of the bombs dropped, the east coast was a mess, and Canada in general was left without any real leadership.
In some places, this made for a worse situation than what the Americans faced - major cities like Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver were left as radioactive craters, where anyone left alive had little chance of remaining that way. Other places, such as small communities in the far north, spent the first winter starving to death as the food shipment they relied on never appeared.
But for the most part, things were not so bad. Remote, self sufficient communities pulled together, and life carried on after the lights went out. Police and military, at least those that weren't killed in the blasts, had not had time to deploy to face the undead foe, and were left relatively intact. While the country was broken enough to not be considered a real nation, for some individuals, things looked ok.
C squadron was stationed at CFB Gagetown when everything went down, and were one of the lucky units not located near any other vital targets. While the majority of the division went up in smoke as Ontario was turned into so many craters, New Brunswick, and accordingly Gagetown, we either forgotten or spared a nuke.
Realizing they might be the last bastion of government on the east coast, C squadron took action. Their commanding officer declared martial law, fortified the base, and for a while, order reigned supreme. As things began to come apart all over North America, the situation grew more and more tenuous, and the civilian population grew more and more restless. In response, the squadron began to take increasingly drastic measures to maintain control. Finally, a breaking point was reached, resulting in a small civil war amongst C squadron, the other military survivors, and the civilian population. When the smoke cleared, only the most ruthless had survived, and the previous community was left in shambles.
C squadron, reduced in numbers to only the most hardened members, abandoned the remains of Gagetown, and hit the road. Though idealism is not completely dead, and they swear that someday, when things have calmed down, they will rebuild, in practice they take what they require from the weak, and focus only on surviving at all costs until that day.
C squadron is a heavy armoured unit, formerly one of the elites of an already elite professional military. Though they've lost a great deal of their members since the Cataclysm, and much of their higher-tech gear is now redundant, they are still possibly the best equipped fighting force in north america. Trucks, Coyote LAVs, and small arms are abundant, as is ammunition and conventional fuel for them. They are experienced vets of real conflicts across the world, highly augmented, and are well organized, their command structure having adapted well to the situation.
They are well equipped (relatively speaking) for nearly any combat situation, as well as biological or chemical attacks.
They have also managed to maintain three of the squadron's 21 Leopard tanks. Though they have plenty of spare parts, travelling south into the US has used up most of their fuel, and they will likely have to either stop and make a permanent camp, or simply abandon them at some point in the near future.
While they lack any static defenses, being a mobile faction, the majority of their vehicles have been modified to act as a wall when properly deployed around their nightly camp. It's not great, but it does keep the zombies away, and between the visual impression left by the armoured column itself, and the simple physical protection offered by their makeshift "wagon circle", it's enough to make many people think twice about attacking. The actual accomodations - tents and trucks - aren't comfortable, but they are functional in keeping everyone from getting sick or freezing to death in bad weather.
C squadron was at one point equipped with both an excellent medical facility at Gagetown, and several highly qualified medical personal. They lost both in the internal conflict. While they are fairly well provisioned with the basics such as anti-biotics, morphine, and other supplies, they have really no personnel available with which to properly use them. Everyone present has basic training, and there are a few medics running around, but it's pretty basic stuff that only goes so far.
Sanitation is somewhat of a non-issue. No one is stupid enough to walk around covered in poop, though no one smells too good or have clean uniforms. While not a ton of time is dedicated to building well-designed latrines or long term garbage dumps, it doesn't really a matter much as the force generally does not stay in one spot for more than a day or two.
((I mean, c'mon. It's been two years. It's not like people would forget the basics that we've known for the last two hundred such as "remember to boil water", "wash your hands before trying to remove a bullet", and "don't shit in the mess hall".))
Back at Gagetown, C squadron had everything they could want - machine shops, powerplants, and agriculture, to name a few things. They also had a full brigade of engineers at their disposal.
Not anymore. Now they really only have strength of arms and their own resourcefulness. While they are skilled and intelligent enough in general to potentially find a way to produce enough to meet their needs, provided they had the resources to camp out for a year and try to learn effective agriculture and production, the easier route thus far has been to rely on finding resources or taking them from others. Because their reliance on this requires them to keep moving, and being able to keep moving relies on having the resources to do so, they have been unable to come up with any realistic way to break the cycle.
Discipline is strictly maintained, though sometimes through draconian methods that the pre-war army might have been horrified at. Generally though, the military did not allow for much recreation beyond whatever the troops could think up when on deployment, so the men are somewhat used to having little to do, and are generally busy killing or entrenching depending on the time of day anyway.
More than anything, what holds them together is the sense that they are doing better than anyone else due to still being a unit. People here are smart enough to realize that getting the lash for dereliction of duty is generally still better than dying of starvation or disease alone in a ditch. The biggest threat to the integrity this provides is presented in the possibility of someday encountering another group that, while not likely to be able to resist a violent take over, is living in much better conditions than C squadron, particularly when the takeover would destroy those conditions. It hasn't happened yet, but it would make people think.
Thus far, this has all has worked ok, and the command has held everything together. Thus far.
Dunno if you count that as OP. Obviously, their strength is that they are relatively numerous compared to the other factions, and that about the only thing that can best them in a fight would be another professional military company that is equally well equipped. Their weakness is that they can't really replace lost manpower easily, lost equipment at all, and that they rely on being able to constantly move and raid the countryside in order to keep together and survive.
EDIT: I may change this all after the mechanics are laid out a little more. With the current categories, it would be pretty easy to assume a professional military would be just about as competent as everyone else simply due to their training, regardless of points. Obviously, I'd try to avoid playing that card, but if overpowering force doesn't mesh well, I might come up with something different.