Dead by Daylight’s new chapter, Tools of Torment, has just been released! The DLC offers players a frightening new killer, The Skull Merchant, with her own unique perks and special ability. The mechanics of The Skull Merchant make her very difficult to avoid for Survivors, who will want to steer clear of her menacing claws. This Skull Merchant Killer guide breaks down her power, perks, and optimal playstyle. In order to succeed with this killer, you’ll need to monitor key points of interest on the map and manage your resources carefully. The Skull Merchant’s complex playstyle can make her hard to adapt to, especially for new players. Rather than being optimized for chases, she is optimized for map control and surveillance. The Skull Merchant is best suited to those who like to play the long game and stall out the Survivors.
You can purchase The Skull Merchant in-game for 500 Auric Cells or 9000 Iridescent Shards. You can also purchase the Chapter DLC in digital stores, unlocking The Skull Merchant alongside two new survivors released in Tools of Torment. Whichever you choose, it will take time to raise her perk levels, so be ready to do some grinding.
Skull Merchant Killer Guide — Perks & Abilities
Adriana Imai, also known as “The Skull Merchant,” comes with the unique perks Game Afoot, THWACK!, and Leverage. Together with her power, Eyes in the Sky, these perks will help The Skull Merchant track and chase down troublesome survivors. Note that descriptions of perks and abilities come from the official Dead by Daylight character page and in-game text.
Power: Eyes in the Sky
The Skull Merchant can position several Drones around the Map. When a Drone is placed, it quickly enters Active Mode and casts a Detection Zone. While inside of this Detection Zone, you will be Undetectable. When a Survivor enters a Detection Zone, the Drone will gradually begin to Lock-On to them. When a Survivor reaches full Lock-On, their location will be revealed through Killer Instinct. They will also become Exposed. If a Survivor is not detected for a while, the Drone will enter Scouting Mode. While in Scouting Mode, the Drone will slowly rotate to catch Survivors in its line of sight. Once a Survivor is detected, the Drone will return to Active Mode.
Special Ability: Claw Trap
A Survivor can attempt to disable a Drone by Hacking it. If they succeed, they will receive a Claw Trap, which will reveal their location on your handheld Radar device. Should they fail, the Drone will immediately enter Active Mode and Lock-On to them, leaving them Exposed.
Special Ability: Radar
Press the Ability Button to open a Radar to see the locations of Survivors with Claw Traps and those near any Active drone. While using the Radar, target a drone to manually activate it or recall it.
Eyes in the Sky provides The Skull Merchant with widespread map coverage and area of control. By placing her Drones in key locations, such as the Killer Shack or the main building, you can make these structures much more dangerous for Survivors. Increasing your stealth and negating theirs gives you a significant advantage over Survivors, who might otherwise benefit from the loops present in these buildings. The only drawback is that the Lock-On effect takes ten seconds to activate, offering a short grace period before Survivors become detectable. You’ll have to react quickly to notifications from Killer Instinct in order to catch them off guard.
Successfully hacking a Drone attaches a Claw Trap to the Survivor, allowing you to track them with your Radar. Players visible on the Radar will appear as a small white dot. Claw Traps have a battery charge which, once depleted, enables the Survivor to Hack it as well. Doing so will remove the trap and take the player off your Radar. However, the Claw Trap will instantly recharge if the Survivor enters a Drone’s range, which also puts it back into Active Mode.
Perk: Game Afoot
When you hit the most-chased Survivor, they become the Obsession. While chasing the Obsession, kicking Generators and breaking walls or pallets will grant a temporary speed boost.
Though not exactly game-breaking, this perk does give The Skull Merchant some much-needed mobility during chases. If the Obsession stuns you with a pallet, breaking it will give you the speed to catch up and close some distance between you two. Once this perk activates, your goal will be to take advantage of the speed boost and prevent the Obsession from reaching a new loop. Other perks that interact with the Obsession, such as Nemesis, offer great synergy with Game Afoot and can maximize your kill potential in chases.
After hooking a Survivor, the next breakable wall or pallet you break will make Survivors within 32 meters scream and reveal their aura for 4 seconds. THWACK! is active for 75 seconds after the Survivor is hooked.
THWACK! has the advantage of lasting long enough after activation that you’re practically guaranteed to get use out of it. If you’re dealing with stealthy Survivors whose perks reduce scratch marks or noise, then THWACK! can help you pin them down during chases when they might otherwise get away from you. Otherwise, though, it has limited functionality; breaking objects outside of chases takes precious time away from patrolling generators and tracking survivors on your Radar. Unless you’re going for the Adept Skull Merchant achievement, you might want to skip this perk.
Each time you hook a survivor, gain 1 Token, up to 10. When you hook a Survivor, this perk activates. For each token, reduces the speed at which Survivors heal by 5% for 30 seconds.
Leverage might not seem that strong on its own, but Killers who pair it with other anti-healing perks will be able to slow the progress of their matches significantly. During the late game, when Leverage is at its most powerful, Survivors will have to choose between repairing generators and restoring their own health. Use this perk to put pressure on Survivors and buy yourself time to track them down.
Skull Merchant Killer Guide — Suggested Build
The best player uses perks and add-ons that suit their playstyle as well as their chosen Killer. Optimizing the synergy between a Killer’s power, build and abilities can mean the difference between sacrificing no Survivors and sacrificing all of them. Here are our suggestions for the best build on The Skull Merchant:
- Jolt: Jolt activates whenever you put a Survivor into the dying state with a basic attack, causing all generators within 32 meters to explode and begin regressing. The Skull Merchant’s goal is to give Survivors the Exposed effect as often as possible, allowing her to down them in a single blow. Jolt capitalizes on this by further punishing Survivors and slowing their progress on generator repairs. This perk makes for a powerful addition to your arsenal and adds an extra level of danger to your drones.
- Leverage: As stated previously, Leverage is an anti-healing perk that becomes increasingly powerful as you gain more hooks. Healing is essential for Survivors, who must rely on their teammates or bring Med-Kits to keep themselves healthy. After a few hooks, basic medkits will no longer be enough to remove the Injured state, forcing Survivors to group up or risk being downed. Use Leverage to slow the game and make Survivors more vulnerable.
- Sloppy Butcher: This perk inflicts the Haemorrhage and Mangled status effects after basic attacks. These effects increase bleeding and cause healing progression to regress, respectively. In conjunction with Leverage, Sloppy Butcher stalls healing even further and makes Injured Survivors much easier to track down.
- A Nurse’s Calling: The auras of nearby Survivors who are healing (or being healed) are revealed to you. As Survivors will be healing for much longer than usual, this perk is especially useful. The additional visibility, even outside the range of your drones, will help you secure hooks and further discourage healing. Once Survivors catch on to your strategy, they may forgo healing altogether, making them easy targets for your claws.
- Advanced Movement Prediction: Survivors who enter a drone’s detection zone will have their Auras revealed for six seconds. This gives your drones extra functionality, with an audio cue for intruding Survivors and visibility from anywhere on the map. This is very useful for monitoring generators and preventing Survivors from Hacking drones.
- Expired Batteries: This add-on gives every Survivor a Claw Trap at the beginning of the match and increases their batteries. In other words, you’ll immediately be able to track Survivors on your Radar, allowing you to initiate chases much sooner. Keep in mind that these Claw Traps will not recharge and are automatically removed once their batteries die.
Skull Merchant Killer Guide — Tips & Tricks
The Skull Merchant’s greatest strength lies in her ability to “three-gen” players during the late game. A three-gen is a situation that occurs when the final three generators on a map are close together, making them easily defensible by the Killer. All The Skull Merchant needs to do is place one drone at every remaining generator, which practically guarantees visibility of the Survivors. This allows you to stall out the Survivors’ hooks and resources as they attempt to repair generators or disable drones.
When the match starts, locate the three generators on the map that are the closest together. Patrol this area to ward off Survivors and force them to complete generators at the edges of the map. You should also use your drones to surveil any problematic loops or structures that might be nearby. As you begin picking up hooks, make sure to wound as many Survivors as you can. This will slow their generator completion, especially if you’re using Leverage. When you down a Survivor, try to bring them as close to your three generators as possible. Doing so makes unhooking them very risky for their teammates and could grant you an easy kill.
During the mid-game, Survivors may try to lead you away from your generators. Be careful about pursuing chases, as this could endanger your three-gen. If the Survivor is Exposed by a drone or stranded without a pallet, though, hooking them is probably worth it.
Though The Skull Merchant can struggle during chases, keeping a spare drone on hand can mitigate this. If you find yourself chasing a Survivor around a loop, deploying a drone forces them to either abandon the loop or receive the Exposed status. Use your drones to keep Survivors from leveraging powerful loops and wasting your time.
Toward the end of the game, you should hopefully have at least one Survivor kill. Three Survivors are much easier to manage and will have a difficult time getting past your drones, so keep an eye on your Radar. Map control and awareness are The Skull Merchant’s biggest strengths, so keep your drones Active. Being Undetectable in their radius will allow you to sneak up on any player brave enough to risk completing one of the generators. With any luck, you’ll secure the win simply by outlasting the Survivors.
How To Counter The Skull Merchant
Playing against The Skull Merchant requires Survivors to spend time dismantling drones and maintaining chases. Receiving the Exposure status is extremely dangerous, so it’s important to Hack drones near generators and valuable loops. Though her Claw Traps are troublesome, they don’t come with a timer like The Pig’s Reverse Bear Traps. Removing them is rarely necessary.
Hacking a drone prompts a unique Quick Time Event for the player. You need to press the arrow key that corresponds to the arrow on the screen, and failing will instantly fill the Lock On meter. Familiarize yourself with this Quick Time Event so you can perform it in-game.
When dealing with a drone in Scouting Mode, be sure to avoid its line of sight. The lights will rotate in a circle, so move in and Hack it when you see an opportunity. You’re able to crouch directly under the drone, which prevents detection. Meanwhile, an Active drone takes ten seconds to fill the Lock-On meter. Use this time to run into its area of effect and quickly Hack it before the meter fills. The drone will remain deactivated for ten seconds before it returns to The Skull Merchant, giving you a short head start. The Skull Merchant’s biggest weakness lies in her poor chase ability. Lure her into strong loops that force her to waste time pursuing you or deploying a drone. Don’t leave the loop the second she activates a drone; try to stun her with a flashlight or pallet first if possible.
Dead by Daylight’s Tools of Torment Chapter DLC is now available for PC on Steam and Epic Games Store, as well as PS4/PS5, Xbox One/Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch. This DLC also comes with two new survivors, Thalita and Renato Lyra, along with updated maps and minor patches. If you’re a veteran killer looking for more advanced strategies, check out this Advanced Tips for Killers guide. Happy hunting!