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When using soul trap on creatures where the soul size doesn't match up with the soul gems I have in my inventory, what exactly happens then? If I capture a soul that is too small for my soul gem, do I automatically waste a large soul gem on a small soul?

So, do I have to be careful which souls I trap in order not to waste any soul gems? Or can I happily trap everything and the souls will only go into the correctly-sized soul gems?

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Should have googled this before filling those black gems with shit souls. Guess I can always have my follower hold on the the good ones in the future. –  user14847 Nov 20 '11 at 5:39
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4 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

A captured soul will be put in the smallest available soul gem that will hold it. So if you capture a lesser soul, and you only have a grand soul gem available, it will be automatically put in the grand soul gem. If you have a empty grand and lesser soul gem, a lesser soul will always be put in the lesser soul gem.

If by chance you accidentally fill a larger soul gem with a lesser soul, you can drop it to the ground and pick it back up. Dropping soul gems to the ground causes them to lose the stored soul and this prevents the waste of larger gems filled with smaller souls.

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Gah this sucks. Thanks for the answer. –  theorise Nov 17 '11 at 15:51
    
This is especially frustrating if you use bound weapons a lot and have the perk that makes bound weapons automatically trap souls. Sooner or later you run out of small soul gems and start wasting greater and grand gems with petty souls, unless you stop using the bound weapon... –  Piitaa Nov 17 '11 at 18:03
    
Dropping soul gems discharges them? First I've heard of it. –  Iszi Jan 29 '12 at 22:27
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There's an existing Oblivion mod called "Soulgem Magic" which fixes this by allowing you to put multiple smaller souls into a larger gem at a default rate of 4 souls of a given size = 1 of the next size up. (e.g., Four petty souls in the same gem produce a lesser soul. Four lesser (or 16 petty) produce a common. Filling a grand gem would take 256 petty souls.) I expect that this is likely to be ported to Skyrim relatively quickly once TESVCS and a sufficiently-capable version of SKSE are out.

Until then, though, yeah - you'll waste most of the grand gem's capacity.

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Note that there is an skse plugin called smart souls that makes it so that you never waste bigger soulgems by trapping smaller souls than what they can handle in them. Also adds a notification telling you the size of the soul just captured. Must-have mod, imo.

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Acquisitive Soul Gems fixes the bug with "losing" souls trapped in dropped gems and prevents souls from occupying soul gems that are too large for them. Doesn't require any additional plugins.

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This is a must-install mod. –  galacticninja Nov 5 '12 at 8:48
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