4 - Fires of the Haunted City (GM Reference)


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There's a whole thread about the grikkitog and how to handle it.


My players threw me for a loop last night. Before they went through the crack in the wall outside area B1, they heard the howling gugs and I thought that they also might be speaking amongst themselves in Undercommon as it is the only language they know. The rogue (unbeknownst to me) could speak Undercommon. So I told him that they were talking about the foul ghouls and encouraging the Deculi to eat it. So the rogue says to the group "let's try talking to them". And so he tells through the crack "hello in there, we can help you with your ghoul problem". Now, they have NO IDEA what's in this room. But he didn't care. Granted, no one stopped him so it's not entirely his fault but... still. So he asks them to come out and one (I added one since there are 5 of them) comes out and starts attacking them. That also means there are two gugs and the deculi on the other side of a narrow crack. And since no one prepared a light cantrip the deculi really controlled the battlefield since only two people could see in the dark at any given time, beingthe orc cleric and animal instinct barbarian at first but the barbarian lost his rage due to a critical hit deck card that made him fatigued. Then the ranger with the eldritch archer Archetype cast darksvision on himself so that helped. And even though the rogue sorta kinda metagamed his way into more combat after going down once they wound up victorious.


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So the Veshumirix fight... There's not a lot of places Vesh or the magma guardians can stand. Can he float like a duck in the magma swatting at the players? How do you guys run it?

Scarab Sages

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GimmeYourShoes wrote:
So the Veshumirix fight... There's not a lot of places Vesh or the magma guardians can stand. Can he float like a duck in the magma swatting at the players? How do you guys run it?

I allowed the magma guardians to use ranged attacks from the magma. Veshumirix has both a swim speed and a fly speed. He was flying most of the combat I ran.

The bigger question is how do the players attack them. My group's sorcerer bridged the stone ledges with walls of stone, so much of the combat played out over the middle of the magma lake.


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I had Veshumerix use hit and run tactics while hasted to dive bomb into the Magma.

1 action dive out of magma, 2 actions breath or fireball, 1 action dive into magma.

The players hated it. Fun times!


AlastarOG wrote:

I had Veshumerix use hit and run tactics while hasted to dive bomb into the Magma.

1 action dive out of magma, 2 actions breath or fireball, 1 action dive into magma.

The players hated it. Fun times!

That... sounds amazing. I might steal this idea!


AlastarOG wrote:

I had Veshumerix use hit and run tactics while hasted to dive bomb into the Magma.

1 action dive out of magma, 2 actions breath or fireball, 1 action dive into magma.

The players hated it. Fun times!

Could you please detail a bit how did the combat went? I read about your changes to Veshumirix and Ilssrah (and plan on implementing them). Was the challenge ok? In this edition it seems hard to counter a strategy based on enemies that change terrain at the start and at the end of their turn due to the limits on the Ready action. How did the players dealt with this "lava bomb" tactic?

what's your party composition? did the elementals that fight with the dragon proved effective?

Many thanks.


Sc8rpi8n_mjd wrote:
AlastarOG wrote:

I had Veshumerix use hit and run tactics while hasted to dive bomb into the Magma.

1 action dive out of magma, 2 actions breath or fireball, 1 action dive into magma.

The players hated it. Fun times!

Could you please detail a bit how did the combat went? I read about your changes to Veshumirix and Ilssrah (and plan on implementing them). Was the challenge ok? In this edition it seems hard to counter a strategy based on enemies that change terrain at the start and at the end of their turn due to the limits on the Ready action. How did the players dealt with this "lava bomb" tactic?

what's your party composition? did the elementals that fight with the dragon proved effective?

Many thanks.

Illsrah was kind of a pushover for them (but that's ok, she was only at +2 level, you can't expect much challenge at this level from a miniboss that's not at least level +3)

The spells I had made her more action efficient, but in the end she got rushed and crushed by the barbarian who just risked the blade barrier and by the alchemist.

As for Veshumirix himself the fight took a while and he was a challenge, the party was clumped up on the ledge near him and so the hit and run was really something, not to mention his resistances. Eventually readied actions helped, especially the barbarian flying and managing a grab on the dragon.

Then the hasted alchemist just went ham on it with frost vials. I actually had 5 magma elementals in the fight, they got cleared pretty fast with cones of cold, frost vials and elemental mutagens. The group druid had cast resist energy (fire) as a 7th level spell so that helped. (Nullifies most persistent damage)

Party composition is:
Gwen: Halfling Bomber alchemist
Ho'omalu: Shoony Druid (Animal and Wild order)
Quill: Half elf Animal totem (hedgehog) barbarian (customised to be like sonic the hedgehog)
Bushy: Elf Thief Rogue
Victoria: Human Champion (Paladin) of Sarenrae
Claude: Catfolk Maestro Bard.

I think overall the veshumerix fight as I have detailed it with the Lava bomb strategy SEEMS daunting and over challenging, but isn't because players can long rest before going into the magma cave and will have everything ready to kill a magma dragon. They will have prepped cold spells, they'll supress their fire runes, they'll have fire resistance items up and be ready to go there to kill some fire beasties.

By comparison the Xotanispawn fight from ''agaisnt the scarlet triad'' in the desert left 4 out of 6 of them dying at the end, and they weren't much harder than Veshumerix. The party was just less prepared for big ass fire spewing monsters.


Does the fact that the Soul Chains of the Accursed Forge-Spurned are level 11 items mean that the save DC for a creature that "has" one is higher? Also what does it mean for a creature to "have" one? Does it still count if it's in a bag of holding?


BeardedTree wrote:
Does the fact that the Soul Chains of the Accursed Forge-Spurned are level 11 items mean that the save DC for a creature that "has" one is higher? Also what does it mean for a creature to "have" one? Does it still count if it's in a bag of holding?

I treated the DC of the Soul Chains Transformative effect as higher(DC 34 I believe was what I chose.)

I counted it as being 'had' even when it was in a characters bag of holding for the purpose of the effect.


Asurasan wrote:
BeardedTree wrote:
Does the fact that the Soul Chains of the Accursed Forge-Spurned are level 11 items mean that the save DC for a creature that "has" one is higher? Also what does it mean for a creature to "have" one? Does it still count if it's in a bag of holding?

I treated the DC of the Soul Chains Transformative effect as higher(DC 34 I believe was what I chose.)

I counted it as being 'had' even when it was in a characters bag of holding for the purpose of the effect.

That's what I was thinking about doing, since it's a large item I don't think any of my current players will use it (the giant totem barbarian has bowed out of the game). But I know someone will want to probably sell it or try to transfer the runes from it and I think that'll be interesting when they make their first one. It'll most likely be the rogue because he is currently the only one with any real crafting goals (and keeps wanting better equipment).


My players wound up being forcibly arrested in our last game, all after fighting Kralgurn, two Theas (there are 5 of them) and immediately after that the Accursed Forge-Spurned. They had no problem with Kralgurn but as soon as the Forge-Spurned showed up they faltered hard. The Mastermind rogue only made one knowledge check with Occultism and the Cleric didn't make any knowledge checks at all because the way I wired "you CAN use religion" instead of "yes it IS a religion check" made him think he couldn't do so. So even though the barbarian had Disrupting on his handwraps his player knew what it was but his character didn't. Not until the absolute last round when just about everyone was blind and almost dead did the cleric find out that creature was indeed undead, and cast Heal on it to kill it.

Then the players rounded up the slaves and took them back to the temple, but spotted some guards following them. They didn't ask to follow the guards back to their base, but instead tried hiding in a bar for a bit. Then the guards succeeded at some stealth checks to follow them back to Fortunate Kord where they accused the PCs of dealing with stolen property. They managed to get PCs outside where the rogue refused to be arrested, and instead insisted that he was going to arrest the guards (because at this point they were convinced the guards were members of the cult for some reason) I don't know how you can refuse to be arrested but he tried. They managed to get the players moving, not without the rogue trying to stop every person passing in the street to ask if this was the way to the constabulatory (I think that's the word he used). Then he said "I stop at a food vendor" to which I replied "while being arrested?" He said yes. So the guard struck him. So I told him that he has two options: he can keep moving or everyone rolls initiative. He said "I wait to see what he does next". I said no, those are your two options. So combat started. They tried disarming and intimidating the guards to surrender, even while more guards poured in. Even still the rogue told these new guards that the first two were "under arrest". Needless to say that didn't fly and I wound up knocking everyone unconscious and they're going to wake up in the prison.
Which could prove interesting because even though they have all the equipment from the Forge-Spurnedin assuming it will regenerate from where it fell and search out its Soul Chain and search it out and show up at the prison potentially killing some guards.
Unless the PCs decide to break out as soon as they wake up. Then the rogue will have to give me a will save.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
BeardedTree wrote:
My players wound up being forcibly arrested in our last game, all after fighting Kralgurn, two Theas (there are 5 of them) and immediately after that the Accursed Forge-Spurned. They had no problem with Kralgurn but as soon as the Forge-Spurned showed up they faltered hard. The Mastermind rogue only made one knowledge check with Occultism and the Cleric didn't make any knowledge checks at all because the way I wired "you CAN use religion" instead of "yes it IS a religion check" made him think he couldn't do so.

I'll watch out for that. My characters have only just met the council.

It looks like you GM the knowledge checks differently from the way I do. As a secret recall knowledge check I roll on against the characters best valid skill (taking into account different DCs for lore skills).


Shadowfoot wrote:
It looks like you GM the knowledge checks differently from the way I do. As a secret recall knowledge check I roll on against the characters best valid skill (taking into account different DCs for lore skills).

You are running it RAW, the player doesn't know what skill they are using for recall knowledge when they declare it by default.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I am a bit confused about Algret. Adorned Dolgindir of the Guild of Finery asked the PCs to investigate the vanishing of a tailor named Algret.

Algret's role:
If the PCs can rescue her, Algret shares what she knows with the PCs—that she is in fact a spy in the employ of the Guild of Arms who had been charged with investigating possible corruption within the ranks. She followed her clues to this location, only to be set upon by the corrupt guards and imprisoned here. She was so deep undercover that few people even knew she was on the case, and by the time the PCs arrive she’s all but lost hope.

Does Dolgindir know she is on the case? I will assume not, and that only he is only aware of her as a missing tailor. "Deep cover" makes me think she's not really a tailor, but is competent at it.

My players sought permission to search her place, which Dolgindir granted, but found nothing out of the ordinary. (I didn't want to derail the adventure by having the heroes investigate a spy ring in Kovlar, and am treating "Deep cover" as making sure there is no evidence in her home to cause her to break cover.

What does a spying tailor do anyway? Arrange measuring and fittings in people's homes/offices, and rifle through documents while the buyer is changing clothes? (I can see how getting recommended to other targets is useful.)


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Just ran this segment last session. I leaned pretty hard into the spy thing because it added a lot of rich context to the kind of behind the scenes political maneuvering the Regents might get up to, and adds another wrinkle to the grand Kovlar mystery. My party's still trying to sort out whether Archmage Nalruven is on the level or not, and now they're thrown for a further loop realizing that Commander Hammersong (who they met and liked, maybe more than any of the other regents, due to his forthright nature) might have some underhandedness to him.

Quote:
Does Dolgindir know she is on the case?

My read is no, he's a pawn in the proxy battle between Hammersong and Chiselrock. It's easy to see another member of the Guild of Arms coming, but someone deeply embedded in another guild entirely might evade notice. The corrupt guards probably wouldn't have headed towards the Earthfire district with another guard on their tail, but a lone tailor is a different story.

My players also visited Algret's house, which I placed under "guard" by Chiselrock's corrupt guards. They were permitted to search the place, and found a hidden dagger which bore a mark of the Guild of Arms underneath the hilt wrappings. When they left, the guards reported to Chiselrock to trigger the guard encounter (they just barely missed qualifying during the council meeting), accusing the party of theft.

Later my party then tried to get into the prison using deception to bluff that they were also on Chiselrock's take, not remembering (from the street encounter with the corrupt guards and subsequent questioning) that the guards had already been warned about the topsiders and were already under orders to take them prisoner. The whole party came into that small entryway and closed the door behind them, and allowed the guards to slowly encircle them until combat ensued. It didn't go well! First combat my party has lost and had to retreat from since book 1.

Quote:
What does a spying tailor do anyway?

Could be spying on Dolgindir. Hammersong doesn't know who's corrupting his guards, just that they're on someone's take. Could be the deliveries/fitting thing, gaining access to private locations and poking around. Could be monitoring supply chains. Could just be for the deep cover, to monitor street activity under a less conspicuous visage.


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Fumarole wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
Fumarole wrote:
Yeah, DC 42 is correct. It would indeed take a roll of 19 to succeed, unless a special feat or magic item/spell is involved.

Our champion had 20 strength and Master athletics as well, but it wasn't at all easy to climb out of the worm. I had to fudge a little bit to have them survive because the Champion with the best athletics and strength in the group needing a 19 to escape with the ability to swallow as a reaction was going to kill everyone else if it picked them off one by one.

I think the worm's ability to regurgitate swallowed foes as a ranged strike is a fun way to prevent a character death, should one deem that necessary. Then the worm could retreat, and the other party members would no doubt congratulate their companion for seldom washing and thus being unappetizing. No doubt the character would make a point to never wash again!

Turns out this is exactly what happened in my game. The spellcasters were swallowed first, but were able to escape with their magic. Then the dwarven ranger was swallowed and had a hard time of it. I had the worm use the regurgitate action to spit the dwarf at the party champion, and everyone had a good laugh at the dwarf's expense once the worm was slain. Good times.


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Question on Room I3: In the "Creatures" description, it says "A pair of elemental infernos...live here."

Then for the stat block, it says Magma Guardians (4).

Which is it? "A pair" or 4?

Scarab Sages

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It's a moderate 14 encounter, which is 80 XP budget. Magma guardian is level 12. Party level minus 2 is worth 20 XP. So it looks like the correct number should be 4 magma guardians for a 4-person party.


So, did everyone have a Neutral arcane caster able to wear Harral’s robe, or ... did your players skip the side quest and/or using the robe altogether ?


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I made them white robes wearable by good-aligned casters. Mechanically speaking I think it sucks to dangle powerful but completely unusable rewards in front of players. And I think making Harral a formerly good-aligned king adds a nice wrinkle to his current state, and might give a party second thoughts about mindlessly exterminating the undead thing. My own group was dead-set on betraying and attempting to kill him, even after being warned that he essentially was Saggorak and had already reanimated at least twice that they knew of, until the white robes twist.

It puts an interesting spin on his devotion to the city and its "people" even in descent to lichdom, and it added complexity to the grander scheme of impending Saggorak-Kovlar politics or warfare in the post-adventure landscape.

I had earlier played up Chiselrock's ambitions for Kovlar as derived from the core desire to complete the crusade his ancestors had started in cleansing Saggorak, which had stalled out over the last few centuries, and that it was the Scarlet Triad who promised him the power to accomplish the task. It led to some fantastic group RP after his interrogation where some PCs had a moment of "Wait, is Chiselrock right?" which informed their expectations of Saggorak, so the later subversion of those expectations after meeting Harral, and the subsequent reinforcement after finding the robes, led to a great in-character argument about the ultimate fate of the undead city. This led them to spend an extra day in Kovlar interviewing the Regents for their take, which let me demonstrate some more of the fractured politics of the city and add a lot of flavor to the setting. Ultimately the party realized that the situation was far more complex than "just kill the evil guy" and that reckless intervention could spark violent repercussions in multiple facets whose echoes would impact the region long beyond the party's brief stay.


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Same here, I just made it a gold robe so my party could use it.


Thanks !

Also : what happened with the balance of room I1 and I2 ?
I1 says "Low" encounter but there are 4 lvl 13 creatures, so that makes up for a severe encounter (120 XP) !
And I2 says "Low" encounter aswell, but there's only a level 13 Dalos in there, which is 30 XP.

Were levels kind of messed up ?


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It was the first AP and was being written as the rules were, so things like this happen. Good catch though.


I think I'll modify those encounters slightly, I don't really want a severe encounter in that first room. I like the idea of having Low-Low-Moderate-Severe as encounters.
For I1, I'll put only two Undead.
For I2, I'll make Kradolaï elite and give her a Magma Guardian bodyguard.

Grand Lodge

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So we are just starting Book 4 and I have a little problem with the timeline regarding Veshumirix. The Adventure Path starts in 4719 AR. Veshumirix was born in 3965 AR. When he was 200 years old (so in 4165 AR) he tried to seek out Mengkare, but failed, so for 10 years he was just going around killing stuff (so we are now in 4175 AR). Then he drew the attention of Dahak cultists, who sent him visions of Dahak and the city of Saggorak where he was shown wearing a crown and sitting on a large pile of treasures. Finding this desireable, he goes there, rampages over the city, kills lots of undead and kills even King Harral. Let's say he took his time with all this and it took let's say 5 years for him to do all this, so now it is 4180 AR. With Saggorak as his base of operations secured, he turns his eyes towards Kovlar, but decides a direct assault would be ill advised, because of magic wards on the walls and whatnot, so he has an awesome idea: let's go into the Darklands and build an army of undead, duergar and Darklands monsters to attack the city in his stead. All is good and well. Aaaand then... 539 years pass and Ilssrah Embermead comes along to offer an alliance to the dragon and the adventure proceeds from there.

Soooo, over the course of 539 years Veshumirix was just not able to build his army? Maybe he couldn't find a single duergar or any kind of monster to recruit into his army? Did he maybe got lost in the tunnels of the Darklands and couldn't find his way back to Saggorak? Or what? Seriously what he was doing for more than 500 years after coming up with his awesome plan of making an army and letting them do his dirty work? Any thoughts?


I got a bit confused as well but Veshumirix seems to have arrived only more recently, "several years ago" (see the audience, p. 41). It probably makes more sense that way.


But damn I'm trying to figure out the Temple of all gods architecture ... and it's confusing to say the least. And for once, the maps don't help.

So, if I understand correctly :
- The north part of the temple is inside the pillar.
- There's a short ramp going up from H5 directly into H12, but that's blocked.
- But you can go up from the stairs H5 to H11 (eventually).
- From H11 you can use stairs "leading through the walls, winding twice around the circumference [of the pillar?] to reach H12".

But how exactly can that short ramp go directly to the door in H12 if you have so much stairs to do H5 -> H11 -> H12 ?_?

I think the rest is fine, with H6 being at floor -1, and the large stair down in H12 going in deeper in the pillar to I1, but the exact position of the H12 room is really confusing.


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I'm pretty sure this was discussed in detail elsewhere in these forums, but this is how I will be running it in my next session:

H7-H11 are at street level.
H2-H6 are one level above (i.e. the main entrance is elevated)
H12 is one level below the street.

The ramp from H5 goes to H6 but is blocked. H6 is only a little bit lower than H5.

I have excised the ramp and doors leading into H12 (the party will need to enter via the stairs from H11).


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This is why I love Harn's maps so much. The relevant elevations will be marked on the map.


Ed Reppert wrote:
This is why I love Harn's maps so much. The relevant elevations will be marked on the map.

Thanks you but ... what is this ? :D


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Harn is an island on the world of Kethira, just off the northwest coast of Lythia, in roughly the same position Great Britain holds on Terra. Harnworld is a game setting. The maps, from the world maps all the way down to local maps, are gorgeous. Interior maps (inside of buildings or dungeons or whatever) include notations about high the ceiling is, how high the floor is above ground level, and so on. Check out Columbia Games, Kelestia Games, and the fan site Lythia.com There's also a bunch of videos on Youtube (search for Harn or Harnworld), and support on foundryvtt.


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Dwim wrote:
But damn I'm trying to figure out the Temple of all gods architecture ... and it's confusing to say the least. And for once, the maps don't help.

Hey guys, I just want you to share that Linda (the author for this book) was kind enough to answer a question I asked on this forum about the incoherence between the temple description and the map. I share it (I think she would be fine with this) so that it can be useful to you as well.

Linda Zayas-Palmer wrote:

If I remember correctly from looking up my initial sketch, the original idea was that if H1-H5 were Floor 1, H6 was floor 2, H12 was below H6 but slightly above H1-H5, and H7-H11 was a basement level. But however you want to connect it for your group'll work just fine :)

Horizon Hunters

As a GM whose party is approaching The Temple of All Gods, I've been reading the various notes here after struggling with the maps and text, and Linda's mention that H7-H11 was meant to be the basement was the solution.

The only bit of text that needs changing is the direction of the stairs between H5 and H7/H9. If they go down from H5, everything else works.

______________H12
____H2-H5____H6
H1_H7-H10__H11

H6 is a bit lower than H2-H5 mechanically (stairs going down from H5) but that works because H11's ceiling is less than half the height of every other room.

Horizon Hunters

Minor note: in the Temple of All Gods, Dranngvit's name and gender are wrong. Should be Dranngvit she/her instead of Drangvitt he/him.


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Dranngvit's gender is apparently "female". Pronouns are not gender.

Horizon Hunters

Thanks, gender is also a grammatical category though. Pronouns can be gendered, as in this case. That’s how you can misgender someone by using the wrong pronouns!


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Pronouns do have gender, I never said otherwise.


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Falrok's entry says he sticks by the pile of corpses so he can use Consume Flesh once he's injured. But consume flesh has as it's requirement, "Falrok is adjacent to the corpse of a creature that died within the last hour"

Are we to assume that the triad delivered 6 people and killed them here less than an hour ago, regardless of when the party attacks or is Falrok supposed to have an ability that gets around this limitation?


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Falrok could have killed some folks on his own. Or his mimions could have done so, and periodically bring him tribute.


I’m probably posting this question too late to get any help for my session tonight but I’m a little confused about Mountainheart’s motivation. What is it that he thinks Issrah wants and intends to do to Kovlar? How does he think he is going to come out of things looking like a hero? The PCs are about to interrogate him and I’m realizing that all this is not very clear in my mind. Thanks!

To reflect more on this, how exactly is he weakening the walls? And why would he want to weaken the walls? I’m thinking about telling the PCs that Issrah told him that she needed to search out an artifact of Droskar, and needed the item stolen from the archives to accomplish it. And that in exchange for his cooperation, she would give him all the information necessary for him to expose a massive underground Droskar cult, making him a hero. I would need to play him a bit of a dupe and unaware that Issrah is a follower of and dealing with the Druegar, etc.

The weakening of the walls would just be a side effect of the activities of the Droskar cultists rather than anything chiselrock is doing

Do you foresee any problems with that approach?


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While my response is surely too late to be of any help, it's still a worthwhile conversation, in case others have similar problems with the lack of explicit motivation in the source material. I'll answer your questions with how I interpreted the setting:

What is it that he thinks Issrah wants and intends to do to Kovlar?
I think it's narratively more interesting if Chiselrock really has no idea what Ilssrah's true intentions are. He's aware of her affiliation with the Scarlet Triad, but beyond that I don't think he's clued into Droskar's Forge or Veshumerix or why he needed to smuggle the Antimagic Rune out of the vaults. She's just someone with a little bit of power and a complete lack of scruples, who can help him gain power in the Court by creating problems that Kelda can't solve but he can. I actually rather like your suggestion that Ilssrah can dangle the cultists as a potential poach.

There's a line in the description of the prison that suggests Chiselrock doesn't want to murder anyone inconvenient to his pursuits, which to me indicates he probably wouldn't be kosher with unleashing a dragon to destroy half the city and then bringing in Duergar to enslave the other half. I think he believes he's a good person with righteous goals and wouldn't sign up for the full conspiracy, but is motivated and hungry enough to eagerly swallow a lie about getting just a little quiet assistance climbing the political ladder in return for one tiny valuable object gathering dust in a vault.

How does he think he is going to come out of things looking like a hero?
I have a post slightly higher up on this very page that touches on this, but I think it makes sense that Chiselrock's vision involves him gathering a Dwarven crusade to march on Saggorak and liberate their ancestral homeland from the "evil" lich king. That's how he'd become a hero, the brave warrior who cut through the Court's red tape and finally took decisive and victorious action. Maybe they'd even rename it after him.

How exactly is he weakening the walls? And why would he want to weaken the walls?
I think your interpretation matched mine, which is also what I think is the most sensible read of the source: Droskar's Forge is what's quietly weakening the wall, nothing proactive on Chiselrock's part. His indifference about the wall's integrity could be chalked up to believing Ilssrah's found a way through and uses it to move herself and her agents into and out of Kovlar.

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