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I'm a new DM and I've tried to read through everything but I could find this on a google search.

Say I have a couple of Worgs who are eating some carrion while the party rounds a corner. The party hasn't made a group stealth check, though.

How would you determine if the Worgs notice them?

A. Leave it in the player's hands, and force them to make an active decision: "You see a couple of worgs, what do you do?"

B. You forgot to stealth, sucks to be you: "Roll initiative"

C. Compare passive stealth scores to passive perception scores

D. Call for a group stealth check.

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A hybrid of A and B.

None of the combatants are trying to be stealthy - If combat erupts, roll initiative as normal, neither sides are surprised. The Worgs aren't hiding, and neither are the PCs, so according to the rules:

Th DM determines who might be surprised. If neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically notice each other.
(from PHB 189)


"IF" combat erupts? You mean "WHEN" combat erupts?

Just because the combatants notice each other, does not mean they will want to kill each other. It's important to know the motivations of each party in a combat, if they aren't necessarily at odds with one another, combat might never even erupt.

In your example, it sounds like the Worgs are just happy eating carrion, they might ignore the PCs if they're just passing by, or try to growl at them and scare them away from their kill, if the PCs enter the room. Either way, the PCs now have the choice to push through the room by killing the worgs, or try to circle around, or make up a clever way to go through.

For more reading about building encounters based on enemy motivations, try reading these TheAngryGM posts (Warning! lots of swearing and debasing players):

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I was just being cheeky. This is a great, well-sourced answer. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – andrew Jul 15 '17 at 4:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @daze413 Ah, right. I mean, I already upvoted, anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 15 '17 at 4:14

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