2
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I'm struggling to adapt Ilmari Karonen's answers from these two questions to my problem.

I want to look at the second highest value from various pools.

function: max A:n B:n C:n {
    result: 2@[sort {A, B, C}]
}
output [max 1d12 1d10 1d8]

Produces possibly believable results, but:

output [max 2d12 0d10 0d8]

Is not at all believable, and completely disagrees with:

output 2@2d12

Similarly testing with

function: maxs A:n {
    result: 2@[sort {A}]
}
output [maxs 2d12]

hasn't helped.

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6
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You were pretty close — all you needed was to replace the :n type specifiers with :s, so that your dice rolls will be passed to the function as sequences, instead of being summed into single numbers, like this:

function: second highest of A:s B:s C:s {
    result: 2@[sort {A, B, C}]
}
output [second highest of 1d12 1d10 1d8]

In fact, you might as well generalize this function into:

function: P:s at A:s B:s C:s {
    result: P@[sort {A, B, C}]
}
output [2 at 1d12 1d10 1d8]

which works just like the built-in @ operator, except that it can take multiple dice pools on the right hand side and merge them before selecting (and summing) one or more positions.

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4
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Just played around with it (never used AnyDice before) and it looks like the problem is with what you think is in your groups.

function: max A:n B:n C:n {
result: 2@[sort {A, B, C}]
}
output [max 2d12 0d10 0d8]

Gives us a set A = d12 + d12 (range of 2 to 24) but we're sorting the 3 sets (A,B,C) not the individual dice so in first position is d12+d12 but second position would always be 0 because you've rolled B or C 0 times.

If you use:

function: max A:n B:n C:n {
result: 2@[sort {A, B, C}]
}
output [max 1d12 1d12 0d8]

You get the right answer because set B is now a d12 too.

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