Thanks to kendrawcandraw for this art piece!
We’ve looked at the odds of Vax surviving a close brush with death while wearing the Deathwalker’s Ward before, and while advantage certainly helps, it obviously wasn’t enough to save him from the kraken. We decided to look at the probabilities of the exact series of events that occurred with Vax, Grog, and the kraken, starting from the tentacle and bite that knocked the champion of the Raven Queen out, just to see how likely this scenario was. Many, many thanks to anydice.com for the damage probabilities- that many dice gets complicated very quickly.
We’ll start with the events that led to the emergency of an unconscious party member trapped in the kraken’s stomach:
Vax Gets Grappled: 80%
Vax actually had the best chance of avoiding getting grappled by the kraken out of everyone in Vox Machina, with a hasted, dual-wielding AC of 23. The kraken has a +18 to hit with its tentacles, so Vax avoids getting hit on anything lower than a 5. Still not great for Vax, but not essentially an auto-hit, either.
Vax Gets Swallowed: 96%
The kraken’s bite attack again has a +18 to hit, and Vax’s AC is still the best-case scenario out of everyone in Vox Machina here, but he was restrained thanks to the tentacle attack from earlier in the round, granting the kraken advantage on the attack. That advantage is the big killer here.
Vax Gets KOed by the Tentacle/Bite Combo (no crits): 8.15%
Vax had 40 hit points when he was hit by the tentacle attack, and used his reaction to halve that damage with Uncanny Dodge. The tentacle attack hits with 3d6+10, and bite with 3d8+10. A halved tentacle deals, on average, 10 points of damage, while a bite deals 23.5, combining for an average of 33.5 points of damage. The chances of the kraken rolling a total of 40 damage between the two attacks with the tentacle damage halved is actually pretty low.
Total Probability of an Unconscious Vax Being Swallowed: 6.26%
This is remarkably low. Sure, the odds of Vax getting swallowed were pretty high, but the odds of him getting knocked out when that happened given his level of hit points bring the chances of what happened in Episode 88 way down.
Now, on to the rescue:
Grog Gets Grappled (Kraken Has Advantage): 99.75%
Grog’s AC is lower than a hasted Vax, at 19, so the kraken hits on everything but a Nat 1. Additionally, Grog had used a Reckless attack, so the kraken had advantage on the attack, making it nearly impossible to miss our favorite goliath.
Grog Gets Swallowed: 99.75%
Again, Grog’s AC combined with the kraken’s advantage from Grog being restrained made it basically a certainty that Grog would get swallowed.
Grog Remains Conscious: 100%
Here’s some more good news. A raging Grog had more than enough hit points to survive the bite/tentacle combo from the kraken, even if both attacks had crit. He had 60 hit points when he was hit by the tentacle, and the combo deals a maximum of 104 with two crits. Since Grog halves bludgeoning and piercing damage when raging, the combo could only deal a maximum of 52. Even if he had gone down, Relentless Rage could easily have kept him up long enough to save Vax.
Grog Hits with 3 Attacks: 4.51% (one crit), 85.74% (no crits)
The kraken has an AC of 18, so with Grog’s +16 bonus with the Dwarven Thrower, he hits on everything but a Nat 1. Since he used Reckless Attack, he got to ignore the imposed disadvantage from being restrained, which made it fairly likely that he would hit with all three attacks. However, he also rolled a Nat 20, which drops the likelihood of the scenario considerably.
Grog Deals Enough Damage to Force the Kraken to Make a Con Save: 100% (crit), 96.05% (no crit)
Thank Kord for Brutal Critical. Grog’s normal damage with three attacks (1d10+14 each time) averages at 58.5, and still has an excellent chance of meeting the minimum 50 damage to force a constitution save. Doubling one of those d10s and adding two more guarantees it.
Kraken Fails the Con Save: 45%
The DC for the kraken to avoid regurgitating its food is 25. With a +15 constitution save modifier, the kraken needed to roll a 9 or less in order for Grog and Vax to escape its stomach, the same odds as a standard death save failure.
Total Probability of Grog Forcing a Regurgitation: 2.02% (crit), 37.05% (no crit)
If we were going to choose anyone of Vox Machina to intentionally get swallowed to rescue Vax, it would have been Grog. Everyone had roughly the same chances of getting swallowed, but Grog had the best chance of both surviving the experience and dealing enough damage to force that critical constitution save.
Thanks to @alienfirst for this art piece!
Now, there’s one last bit- Vax both surviving long enough to be rescued by Grog, then dying once he got outside:
Vax Succeeding Two Consecutive Death Saves Within the Kraken: 63.6%
Vax was inside the kraken for two turns after being swallowed, and Grog’s turn was after both Vax and the kraken in the initiative order, so he was guaranteed two save attempts and two failures (from the acid in the kraken’s stomach). In order to survive long enough to be rescued, he had to succeed both attempts. Thanks to the advantage granted by the Deathwalker’s Ward, the probability of this is fairly high, but most certainly not a guarantee.
Vax Failing a Death Save: 20.25%
Again, thanks to the Deathwalker’s Ward, this probability is lower than normal, but it clearly wasn’t enough to save Vax.
Total Probability of Vax Surviving the Stomach Only to Die Outside: 12.88%
Now, time to combine everything into one long chain of events and calculate the final probability:
Total Probability of Vax’s Death in Episode 88: 0.02% (Grog crit), 0.30% (no Grog crit)
This is improbably low, even if you don’t require Grog’s crit on the third attack! However, the nature of probability can be somewhat misleading in this case. The low odds of Vax getting knocked unconscious by the kraken, then surviving long enough for Grog to save him only to die outside certainly had an effect. However, we required a very specific, very long, series of events in order to calculate this number, which will always lend itself to lower probabilities and makes drawing serious conclusions difficult. Certainly, the exact series of events as they occurred is highly unlikely, but so is any exact series of events in D&D. Given that Vax had such low odds of getting knocked out and failing that final death save, however, the odds of his death in general are pretty low.