I definitely don't think you can call this "a failure of the writers", but in truth, I also think either we're missing something, or this content isn't ready yet. Think of the moving pieces here, let's lay it down:
1. These Drow are petrified, potentially charmed, and we know that they're on a mission to overtake the Selunite Outpost. From a lore perspective, we can pretty much narrow down the scenario where they're willing to talk to you to a player-character who is a Drow, or is in disguise as a Drow, or meets some condition I'm not thinking of.
2. Assuming the player is a Drow (or otherwise meets the condition to speak with them), it's still perfectly reasonable to suggest that the shock of being unpetrified would be enough to turn a Drow war party hostile.
3. The game gives you a Basilisk Oil potion nearby (in the small hidden camp downhill, behind the spiderweb barrier), which screams "USE ME ON THE DROW!" (unless maybe the Spectator has the ability to petrify party members, but that would make the potion feel like a red herring.
With those in mind, we ask ourselves, "would it be cool if there was a possible conversation here, especially with Commander Maz'ri?" The answer is yes. Yes, it would be cool, especially for an "evil" character. The problem is that if you bring even a single party member anywhere near Commander Maz'ri, even in sneak, the Spectator spawns and all the Drow turn hostile (even while petrified). I was able to hit her with the Basilisk Oil potion from the ledge just downhill from her without spawning the Spectator, and she says "What happened? Straj, we've been spotted, attack!" before going hostile with the "Surprised" modifier (even though she was still outlined in yellow). I hit her with the "Friends" spell, but that didn't do anything (as it shouldn't, the tooltip for that doesn't indicate it's appropriate here: "Enchant a non-hostile creature to gain advantage on Charisma checks against it.")
One of the other Drow yells "For the glory of House D'arkkonnen!" when he becomes unpetrified, but that's the only other dialogue I was able to experience.
I tried "Speak with the Dead" on all of them, but you get "The corpse does not respond", and not "The corpse seems willing to speak, but not to its killer", as you might expect here if that were the problem.
After my testing on this playthrough, my conclusion (for now) is that this is either cut content or not currently implemented. If I had to guess the correct way to initiate a conversation with these Drow, it would be to kill the Spectator before it has the chance to unpetrify Commander Maz'ri, then use a Basilisk Oil (or Lesser Restoration, there's no reason that shouldn't work, but I can confirm that it does not) on her.
As a final test, I tried disguising Astarion as a female Drow and then had him sneak up and use the Basilisk Oil potion on her without spawning the Spectator (leaving her still outlined in yellow). This had no effect that was any different.
(EDIT: It is also possible that this content is currently shelved or being worked on, as Patch 4 actually reduced the game size by 20 GB or so. I have noticed multiple things that were removed, at least for the time being, and this could easily be one of them)
(EDIT #2: I've discovered that Lesser Restoration does not list petrification as a condition it can heal. You need Greater Restoration for that.)
Last edited by DeeperThought; 12/05/21 08:13 PM.