D&D Horror and Undead Puzzles: Vampires and Zombies Abound!

Puzzles have a reputation for being dull intellectual challenges. But we are here to change all of that! Because in our Dungeons & Dragons games puzzles are crawling with undead horrors. Let’s see if your players still believe puzzles are boring when cold the dead hands of a vampire or a mob of zombies are clawing for them. 

That’s right, it’s time for some chills and thrills with D&D horror puzzles. So let’s dive right in.

Making D&D Puzzles Scary

Puzzles are not scary and if you want to run a horror story you need to scare your players. So how do you set up a frightening D&D puzzle? 

First, puzzles do not need to be scary. We have undead and other horrors to take care of that. So let’s take undead for example. Why are they scary in the first place? 

One thing that stands out about the undead is that they are often unstoppable. A mob of zombies slowly comes nearer and there is not much the players can do about it. Skeletons that have fallen rise again. And vampires can be vanquished only to return. 

This is not a coincidence. We fear the inevitability of death and so it stands to reason that undead monsters are an expression of that fear. We can’t avoid death forever. We can only run and hide from it for a while. Or can we?

One aspect of all puzzles is that it takes time to figure them out. The players can’t continue on their path before they do. So if your party is running from a mob of zombies having their path blocked by a door puzzle can be very scary. 


It’s so scary in fact, that many horror movies employ this tactic. How many movies have you seen where characters rush to complete some ritual (puzzle) to stop the inevitable coming of an undead monster. How many where characters need to franticly unlock a door to get away from some horrific danger?

Almost all of them, right? 

So if you want to put a puzzle in your D&D horror story, almost any puzzle will do IF you set it up the right way. But we like these puzzles the best.

Lock Puzzles for D&D Horror and Vampires

Our first pick is D&D Lock Puzzles which is available in our webshop. With this puzzle, players need to fill a lock with just three puzzle pieces. Sounds easy enough. But you can increase the difficulty by adding more locks.

  • So two locks would have a total of six pieces. Still not very hard.
  • But six locks would have a total of eighteen puzzle pieces. Ouch.

While it is easy to fill out a single lock, filling all locks simultaneously can only be done in one way. So your players might fill out half of the locks only to discover the pieces they have left won’t fit. And all the while those zombies are getting nearer.

Failing to seal the puzzle lock in time, a Creature of the Dark breaks free.

You can also flip the script where a cult is trying to solve a puzzle that will unseal a mighty vampire. And the players need to stop the cult from finishing their task. Showing how the cult is slowly succeeding is what creates the horror in this case. Again, when it comes to horror think inevitable rise of doom. Quick scares are great for effect, but the real fear lies in slow inevitability.

Technically, an adventure where players enter a pyramid with a mummy is also an undead horror adventure. If that’s the kind of setup you like, check out our article about D&D Desert Puzzles for Pyramids and Crypts.

Rune Puzzles for D&D Horror

Rune Puzzles can use in many ways. For D&D vampire and horror puzzles, we like to lay them on floors to create force field barriers. 

For example, imagine your players entering a tomb where a mighty vampire is trapped. They must enter this prison to retrieve some artifact. And by solving a puzzle they can either take down a force field to enter or put up a force field to block off an area. Now it’s a challenge to let down the correct force fields and put them back up again without the vampire escaping OR locking themselves in with the bloodsucker. 

You can easily change the theme of this adventure to a mummy, lich, or Cthulhu if your players messed with you one time too many. Whichever scares your players the most. 

The puzzles in this article are available in our webshop and are a part of the Puzzle Bundle which contains hundreds of puzzles for D&D. With the right setup you could use any of these puzzles for a horror campaign so be sure to check them out. There may be something that fits your story better. 

Other Undead or Horror Puzzle Options for D&D

Most puzzles aren’t themed for horror or masses of undead. But you can still adapt some puzzles for your nefarious purposes very easily. So here are a couple of puzzles that you can change with little effort:

Dungeon Puzzles

Dungeon Puzzles can change your entire dungeon into one big puzzle. Hallways, rooms, crossroads, and so on all become pieces of the puzzle. While players are laying out this puzzle and solving it, they are also creating the dungeon map you can immediately play on!

But that’s not all. This the Dungeon Puzzles pack also contains cave pieces and more puzzle pieces that you can place inside your dungeon or cave. Puzzles within puzzles.

Another highlight of Dungeon Puzzles is that all players can work at solving the puzzle at the same time. And it doesn’t matter which side of the table you are sitting on because the puzzle pieces can be viewed from all sides.

While the pack comes with 25 premade puzzles, you can create an infinite amount of puzzles and dungeon layouts. And there’s no limit to the size of your puzzle setups. It’s really a complete puzzle system. The pieces come in VTT and printable format. This pack offers a crazy amount of value for money.

The reason Dungeon Puzzles are perfect for horror and undead in our opinion is because after players have layed out the puzzle dungeon, they still don’t know what undead lurk in rooms and hallways. And they will only learn where doors are as they are exploring the dungeon. The next one takes a bit more work but bear with us:

Potion Puzzles

Potion Puzzles took us by surprise. We were expecting a series of simple potion themed puzzles. What we got was a puzzle system that can also double as a complete system for creating magical items in your world. But you don’t have to. Potion Puzzles gives you all the creative control as a DM while adding a massive amount of flavour.

Collecting ingredients, finding potion formulas, and brewing perfumes, dyes, polishes, inks, and of course potions are all a part of solving the puzzle. You can sprinkle ingredients and formulas throughout your campaign. When your players manage to solve the puzzle, create their very own potion and use it, it’s much more significant to the story.

Magical inks can be used for scrolls, dyes for creating magical robes and so on. In short, we got more with this potion puzzles then we thought possible with such an elegant system.

All of this doesn’t sound too scary. But you can reflavour this puzzle for a horrow or undead theme. Simply switch out the ingredients for a vampire skull, a zombie brain and so on. And have the potions be necromantic potions or blood inks that write forbidden magical scrolls. By having ingredients be part of powerful evil undead collecting ingredients becomes a truly horrific experience!

Dark Ulf – Putting Puzzles into D&D games since 2009

Dark Ulf is the founder and editor of DNDpuzzles.com. When not writing for DNDpuzzles he travels the multiverse and destroys demons with a crossbow in one hand and a crossword in the other.

We hope this site inspires you to put more puzzles into your D&D games.