[Editorial] You Tried To Make Me A Killer Vol. 4: Pennywise the Dancing Clown

My first exposure to the work of Stephen King was when I challenged myself and read the massive It when I was in the sixth grade. I was far from well-versed in horror at that point, and while I often cite Bride of Chucky or the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror as the start of my love of the dead, I could make a case for this titanic tome being the true genesis. While there is a love in my campy heart for the 1990 TV miniseries, I was thrilled to see the 2017 film take the box office by storm. When the classic scene with Georgie near the sewer grate went exactly as readers pictured it should, I knew there was something special to be had.

As endearing as the Losers’ Club are, it is the villain of the story, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, that makes it. It is scary as all hell, with all sorts of allegorical weight to it that makes It a proper masterpiece. All three iterations of the Eater of Worlds have had their own charm about them, be it Tim Curry’s take in the miniseries, Lilliput’s spin as Vikram in the 1998 series Woh, or Bill Skaarsgard’s genius portrayal in the 2017 and 2019 films.

It’s frightening, it feeds on fear, and it’s an instantly iconic villain. It is damn perfect for Dead by Daylight. And if we can’t get Jason Voorhees, this might be the next best choice for a popular, immediately recognizable horror movie antagonist. It is wildly popular again, thanks to Andy Muschietti’s films, so let’s strike while the iron is hot, shall we?

When deciding on what Pennywise’s Killer power would be, there came a handful of questions. For one, would Pennywise shapeshift? He takes the form of one’s worst fears, and his final form is a giant spider, so can we get away with something like that? In a word, no. Bipedal beings are the name of the game, as expressed by the developers of said game. Could we have the dancing clown that launched a thousand GIFs? Honestly, I considered it for the sake of getting across the map quickly, but since they’ve tweaked the Hillbilly’s chainsaw sprint, which serves that same purpose, it feels like something we’re not about to get.

So what can we do for It’s power? Well, there are two things about It’s presentation that make it stand out. Together, the power will be called “The Eater of Worlds,” and sorry, Bray Wyatt, Pennywise has been eating worlds long before you emerged from the swamp. The first is the red balloons, which consistently serve as lures and sources of false sense of security. After all, any piece of It merchandise is bound to have a red balloon somewhere on it. Besides the hair, they may be the most instantly recognizable icon It has. As such, their role here will be part Plague and part Hag, with a bit of Clown and Trapper thrown in for kicks. The text reads as such:

Red Balloons

The Dancing Clown has a set number of Red Balloons in its inventory. It can set the balloons throughout the map, attaching them to objects or walls.

If a Survivor walks too close to a Red Balloon, it will explode, damage any nearby Survivors, set off a Loud Noise notification, and send the Survivor in the opposite direction they were travelling before the explosion.

Red Balloons can be placed on Generators and undropped Pallets.

If a Red Balloon explodes on a Generator, that generator will be broken and suffer an immediate 5% regression penalty.

If a Red Balloon explodes on an undropped Pallet, it will break the Pallet, rendering it unusable.

While the Red Balloons are going to be visible, almost painfully so, they will provide a sort of map control. Will this require a bit of forward thinking and planning? Sure. Will every balloon set lead to a big boom? Probably not. But map control is something that not enough Killers have, and even fewer can utilize well. Setting Balloons up on jungle gyms and other high-traffic areas will at least give away Survivor’s locations, as well as send them running in the wrong direction.

What good does that do? That’s where part two of Its power comes into play, in which It harnesses the mystical Deadlight to leave Its victims helpless.

The Deadlight

The Dancing Clown can harness the power of The Deadlights to stun unwitting Survivors.

If a Survivor looks at the beam, their Macro meter fills.

The more directly they look at the beam, the faster the meter fills.

Looking directly at the beam will instantly fill the Macro meter.

When the Macro meter is completely filled, the Survivor is stunned in place.

A stunned Survivor can only recover by another Survivor snapping them out of it.

This action will require completion of Skill Checks.

A stunned Survivor that is hit with an attack will be unfrozen, but susceptible to being stunned quicker the next time they see the Deadlight.

If a Survivor has already been Hooked, and the next hook would put them in the Sacrifice phase of the ritual, a direct hit with the Deadlight will Mori the Survivor, sending the Survivor skyward to meet The Entity.

The one-two punch of an exploded Red Balloon and a direct hit with the Deadlight is a nasty combo, albeit one that is only so easy to accomplish. As such, I don’t feel bad about making this a thing, especially the possibility of a Deadlight finisher. It’s hard to accomplish, like Executioner’s Final Judgment, but since the Deadlight is usually a “one look and you’re fucked,” it makes sense for this variation of the move, assuming you score a direct hit, to be a mini-Mori.

Granted, this would mean that hitboxes need tweaked big time, and we’ve been needing such tweaks since Huntress came to us, so… yeah.

As for Pennywise’s native perks, we’ve already given him map control, trapping, and a combo attack, so we need some other bits filled in. The Pennywise we know and love likes to come out of nowhere and fast, and he can sense fear from miles away. As such, the Perks for our Dancing Clown read like so:

Level 30 - Taste of Fear

You feed off of the fear you create in your victims.

If a Survivor screams within your Terror Radius, this Perk gains a Token, up to a

maximum of 6/8/10 Tokens. For each Token this Perk has, gain 0.5% movement

speed. Performing an offensive action will spend all Tokens on this Perk.

Level 35 - We All Float

Luring people to their doom is how you best do your job.

By breaking a Generator, you will mark it. If this Generator is worked on up to

15/20/25 seconds after you have marked it, it will blow up, notifying you with a

Loud Noise notification. After a Generator is exploded in this fashion, this Perk

enters a cooldown of 120 seconds.

The marked Generator will be shown with a white Aura to the Killer, until it is

exploded, at which point the Aura will turn yellow.

Only one Generator can be marked at a time.

Level 40 - Blue to Gray

A shred of humanity lies somewhere deep within. Maybe it’s best to snuff that out.

The more Survivors that are injured, dying, or hooked, the smaller your Terror Radius gets.

For every Survivor injured, dying, or hooked, your Terror Radius decreases by 2/3/4 meters.

Survivors who are sacrificed or killed do not contribute to the decreased Terror Radius.

Taste of Fear could be partnered with Infectious Fright to really get movement bonuses, closing the gap between hits for maximum impact. And using this Perk on Doctor is why I had to nerf the hell out of it, because with his shocks, it would be insanely easy to rack up Tokens. We All Float is made to work with Pennywise’s Red Balloons almost too well, although perks like Pig’s Hangman’s Trick also work well with it for a gotcha build. Pairing Blue to Gray with something like Thanatophobia could really mess up a Survivor’s day if teammates are injured or otherwise indisposed. You could also use a perk like Knock Out to keep Survivors from finding downed teammates, in order to maintain the decrease in Terror Radius. It’s a bit of a dick move, sure, but Knock Out is essential for a slugger build as it is.

Pennywise’s Mori has to be the iconic Georgie kill, or as I like to call it, the Denbrough Special. The Survivor falls to the ground, as the gaping maw of Pennywise instills sheer terror. He mounts the Survivor and bites their arm off, eliciting a blood-curdling scream, before silencing them with a second bite, this one tearing out the Survivor’s throat. And on the topic of Georgie, the map for this chapter would have to be the sewer system of Derry, Maine. I can already envision so many loops laid out, and while jungle gyms and the like may not be many, dark, tight spaces could make the use of a flashlight very interesting.

What I haven’t done with either this series or “Children of the Campfire” is have a complete chapter, in which we have a map, Killer, and Survivor, and something as massively known as It needs its own chapter. So for the next installment of “Children of the Campfire,” we will take a look at one of the members of the Loser’s Club.

But you’ll have to read that one to find out the secret, the dirty little secret.


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