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The Paizo/Pathfinder Spell "Trap the Soul", has two possible triggers.

Spell Completion: First, the spell can be completed by speaking its final word as a standard action as if you were casting a regular spell at the subject. This allows spell resistance (if any) and a Will save to avoid the effect. If the creature's name is spoken as well, any spell resistance is ignored and the save DC increases by 2. If the save or spell resistance is successful, the gem shatters.

The Second is:

Trigger Object: The second method is far more insidious, for it tricks the subject into accepting a trigger object inscribed with the final spell word, automatically placing the creature's soul in the trap. To use this method, both the creature's name and the trigger word must be inscribed on the trigger object when the gem is enspelled. A sympathy spell can also be placed on the trigger object. As soon as the subject picks up or accepts the trigger object, its life force is automatically transferred to the gem without the benefit of spell resistance or a save.

This second one is important. To read the RAW, (Material Cost Aside) as above, without the benefit of a save or spell resistance it seems to me that a sufficiently prepared spellcaster with the Soul Trap spell and some crafting time (for the enscription) would be able to use these as a kind of ... poke ball? Knowing the creatures name and inscribing both the name and the trigger word means that as soon as the creature touches the gem they become trapped. Would this allow for a ranged-touch attack to throw the gem at them and trap them?

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No.

The spell specifically requires that the subject "picks up" or "accepts" the trigger object. Just whacking them upside the head with it will not be enough for the spell trigger to fire. The subject needs to willingly accept the trigger object (though they almost certainly won't understand the full implications).

That said: if you throw the trigger object, and your victim has the Snatch Arrows feat, and they use it against your thrown item, then the spell will trigger. Whether the "immediately throw the caught object" part of Snatch Arrows triggers before or after the target's body and soul are sucked into the gem is a DM call, but the hapless target is definitely going to end up inside the gem either way. (But it's funnier if the trigger object is thrown first!)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I know the Snatch Arrows thing is just for fun, but could a creature with the feat immediately (that is, before the spell's triggered) throw back the gem? ("A 20,000 gp ruby? No thanks! Keep it!") \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 12 '16 at 20:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, they took voluntary action to receive it, if only for a moment. It should trigger on catch, before they could return it. Though now I'm imagining the no-longer-souled body throwing the gem back anyway, because it's immediate, and both the "throw back" and spell trigger would happen simultaneously! \$\endgroup\$ – PotatoEngineer Apr 12 '16 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PaulMarshall Alas, in both Pathfinder and 3.5rd edition, trap the soul also traps the body and anything it's carrying, so throwing the gem back isn't possible. 3.0 did leave the body outside the gem, though. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 13 '16 at 0:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ RAW the trigger object doesn't have to be the gem, though. And it probably shouldn't be. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Apr 13 '16 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyObenshain Huh, for some reason I always thought the trigger object had to incorporate the gem in some way, but now that I check, I see you're right: You could potentially inscribe the victim's name on a letter addressed to them, and keep the gem in your possession... \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 13 '16 at 6:59

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