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It's calculated by the damage you suffer. In other words, it's based on totally unmitigated damage, stuff that's not dodge, parried, or absorbed with your Blood Shield. This is why most tanks stack mastery so extensively, because our mastery and avoidance actively work against one another.
I'm fairly certain that damage absorbed by blood shield and/or healer bubbles still counts as damage taken. I am 100% sure absorbed damage increases vengeance, so I don't see why it wouldn't be calculated for death strike.
Also on fights like Will of the Emperor when I'm building up a max shield while doing the dance. my minimum Death Strike heal definitely increases before my shield breaks.
To be technical, it is based on the damage you take that decreases your HP, not unmitigated damage.
Armor is mitigation, and, in fact, a giant part of your mitigation at that.
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