I submitted a ticket with the diagnostic tool last night. Crash completely to desktop. I pulled out all the factions I made including Gauntlets which I dearly love. restarted game. Put in only my own portraits I want for now (must have evil Spock), made that faction. I kept factions that came from the workshop as they were subscribed.
I re verified all files and restarted. Success.
Not sure what is causing the crash but literally removing all the 'factions' folder and starting over (from there) fixed the problem. I did not re install the game, only pulled out the mods and factions folder.