My group just met Merrick and convinced her to introduce them to Luvick...
Interesting. I read the module as contemplating the fight with Merrick was pretty much unavoidable, because she was the guardian the PCs needed to fight through to gain access to the Underground, which had been sealed on orders of Siervage.
Admittedly, this caused me some concern, because I didn’t think Siervage would readily forgive the slaying of such an important guardian. Accordingly, I came up with an alternate scheme in which Merrick is disloyal to Siervage. This is how I envision it: Sensing it would not be possible to maintain the secrecy of his scheme much longer (as various vampire and spawn have become addicted to the Bloodbrew Elixir), Radvir Giovanni recently risked approaching Merrick, to see if he could gain a powerful ally. He convinced her to sample the bloodbrew elixir, which further awakened her savage, animalistic instincts (I’ve decided the Elixir makes vampires more savage and hungry for blood). Merrick now views Siervage’s relatively peaceful détente with the humans of Caliphas as a sign of weakness.
The PCs, led by the dhampir Quinley, will approach the Restoration Park entrance to the Underground thinking that Merrick will give them safe passage as an ally of Siervage, but she will instead attack and make comments reflecting her disloyalty. When the PCs reach Siervage, they can inform him of Merrick’s treachery. Quinley will encourage them not to slay Merrick while she is helpless in her coffin, but to instead bring her to Siervage for his judgment, presumably with a wooden stake in her heart to keep her immobilized on the way.
This gives the opportunity to play out the very cool Glass House fight, but still have it make overall plot sense. I’m going to try to play the Vampire community as a chaotic, confused, and paranoid group under siege -- which is how Radvir’s (and now Merrick’s) treachery and the use of the bloodbrew elixir have managed to go undetected. I really like Kalindlara’s idea of making the Vampire Underground a more crowded and complex environment. I don’t know how much I will expand the roleplaying and personalities down there, but I definitely like the atmosphere she describes.
Any thoughts on any of that? Also, how many vampires live underneath Caliphas and how many vampires have been killed? I’m not sure what seems a reasonable estimate, but I feel like I need to have a good estimate for both numbers as my PCs go underground and expand their investigations.