Behaviour has brought us another new Killer. Adriana Imai, or the Skull Merchant, is joining the Dead by Daylight roster in Chapter 27: Tools of Torment. She’s currently playable on the PTB along with the 2 new Survivors, Thalita, and Renato Lyra.
The Skull Merchant feels like a remix of the Trapper and the Pig. This isn’t unusual, as many of Behaviour’s Killer designs revisit concepts with new ideas and mechanics. She has the territorial power of the trapper and the forced diversions of the Pig. If you’re looking to make this new Killer your main, we’ve got the inside scoop from the PTB. Here’s how to play as the Skull Merchant.
The Skull Merchant’s Power: Eyes in the Sky
The Skull Merchant uses drones as her main power. She can place up to 4 at a time. These drones will start in Active mode. While active, Survivors in (reasonably wide) range will be Locked On. If they’re fully Locked On, they’ll be Exposed for a duration and marked with Killer Instinct while near the drone. The Skull Merchant also gains Undetectable near these active drones, making them very dangerous places to be.
These drones don’t stay active for long. Drones that don’t find any Survivors to Lock-on to will switch to Scouting mode. Scouting drones have a visible sweeping scanner that will put them back in active mode if they detect a Survivor. Scouting mode works off line of sight but active mode does not.
Survivors can fight back by interacting with the drones. By completing a short hacking sequence, they remove the drone and put it back in the Skull Merchant’s supply. The drone will snap into active mode if they fail the hack.
If the Survivor succeeds the hack, they are caught in a claw trap. This device will cling to their arm, giving the Skull Merchant a way to track them for as long as the battery lasts. This is marked by another meter and 3 lights on the trap itself. The trap can be removed with another hacking sequence once the battery is spent, but entering the range of an active drone will recharge it.
The Skull Merchant can track any Survivors with a powered Claw Trap or near an active drone by bringing up their radar with their other hand. Survivors being tracked this way will see an orange eye icon above their head. The Skull Merchant can also reactivate drones in scouting mode while using the radar.
Playing as the Skull Merchant
To play as the Skull Merchant, players need to plan their use of drones to weaken and occupy the Survivors. Like other trap-setting Killers, the Skull Merchant needs to balance how effective her traps are with how obvious they are. She’s a little like The Knight in that she can drop her drone at a loop and encourage a Survivor to move on. Most of her power, though, comes from preparing for the future. Her drones are a long-term threat to the team; solo Survivors can trade that for a short-term threat to them personally.
Like Pinhead’s puzzle box and Pyramid Head’s Torment status, confident Survivors will engage with your power to draw you away from their teammates. A drone covering a generator means a Survivor has to engage with it; a good runner will waste the time you gained by blocking it. Don’t chase this sort of Survivor unless you have a perk or other advantage to keep it quick.
Use a mix of obvious traps and ones lying in wait. Like the Trapper you need to understand where Survivors will go, especially in a chase. A chased Survivor doesn’t have time to hack a drone or avoid its scanner sweep.
Ideally, a chased Survivor runs for a place like the Killer Shack only to discover a drone lying in wait. Their options are “leave and risk getting hit” or “stay and definitely get hit.” Unlike the Knight, dropping a drone mid-chase means the Survivor can still play the tile for a while.
Best Perks for the Skull Merchant
The Skull Merchant is still a standard Killer in terms of speed and attacks. While she can get Exposed hits and Undetectable through good use of her drones, they aren’t guaranteed. The same applies to her tracking powers. Playing into this theme and shoring up her chasing ability is our suggestion.
Brutal Strength or Spirit Fury pair well with 2 of her personal perks, Thwack! and Game Afoot. Thwack! reveals Survivors, and Game Afoot gives a speed boost, but they both trigger from breaking walls and pallets. This is a slow, telegraphed animation Survivors can use to make distance. Survivors expect you to run her perks, but they may not expect a shorter window to react to them.
Her other perk, Leverage, grants a stacking debuff to heal speed for each Hook. The downside is it only applies right after the Hooking action. Run it with something like Scourge Hooks: Pain Resonance; pit their need to repair generators against their need to heal teammates.
I would try to fit in 1 situational stealth perk, like Tinkerer or Dark Devotion. Having that backup means Survivors can’t be certain you aren’t nearby. Especially if they see the eye that means you’re actively tracking them. Instilling that paranoia pays off, as Survivors make bad calls from the uncertainty.
For add-ons, we suggest keeping it simple. Overcharge grants longer battery life to Claw Traps to boost their tracking Power. Adaptive Lighting lets the Undetectable Status linger longer after passing by an active drone. Some of the higher-tier add-ons are promising, but they’re only useful once players are practiced.
We’ll keep playing around with the Skull Merchant and see if we can’t find more playstyle tips and other perk synergies.