Subject says it all. If our heroes stumble upon reclusive Giants, perhaps high in some isolated mountains, w/ some magical qualities/abilities/powers, would it make more sense for them to be of the Faerie Realm or Magical Realm? (And, in your opinion, why?)
(If as Fae, I'm thinking they would be "aloof" fae, rather than capricious.)
I can see it both ways, and the answer may be the ever-popular "It all depends...", but I'd like to hear thoughts anyway.
(And as a "Giant", I'm thinking of around 6-10 paces tall or so.)
(I'm also viewing bestiary/prev edition suggestions as non-restrictive.)
For your high-in-the-mountains Giants with no real contact with people, I'd say magic realm.
The fae/magic division is always a little tricky, since Mythic Europe is 'Europe how people back there believed it worked' while Fae themselves feed off and encourage belief.
That said, I'm going with magic precisely because these giants would do their thing regardless of what the people down in the valleys thought. They'd still throw boulders at each other, start avalanches, be responsible for the odd booming noises you hear echoing around the valleys, etc. regardless of whether the people in the valley payed them any attention or not.
Not caring a whit about human opinion = magic. IMO.
I would simply get rid of the magic/fae distinction of the realms. But that is me. IMS this a distinction that only the merinitas and some theoretical magi do, not a real distinction.
If you go by the RAW, I would make the magic one totally careless in respect of the opinion or actions of men. The fae one would go down to the valleys from time to time to ensure that he is remembered and do something to ensure that the following generation of people talks about him, either well (he repaired the bridge) or bad (he stole some cattle or eat the daughter of the miller for breakfast);The important think is that they talk about him emotionally.
You could have giants aligned to any of the four realms, and unless I'm much mistaken, you can find "giants" in each of the RoP book, so yeah.
From your description, I'd say magic, like everyone else, but it all depends on what you want.
I'd say giants belong to the magic realm, unless you have a faerie posing as a giant or there is a specific tale they're copying.
So if the townspeople talk about giants living in the mountains it could be because giants are living in the mountains, or it could be that they're no longer around but some fae are taking advantage of it.
Offhand I think this is a good general rule for most monsters.
I think I was (partly) caught in the "goblins-ogres-giants" continuity of evolution, and disregarded the "interaction" aspect I was drawing. While trolls that live under bridges and ogres that eat children feed off of human fear (dark fae), these giants "just don't care"... Magic it is, thks!
I would suggest that you think about how high fantasy you want your game to be when you make this decision.
To me, Magic creatures tend to lead to a more fantastic setting than Faeries. This is because the Magic creatures exist in the real world alongside human beings and should ideally have histories and ecosystems of their own. If you want underground dwarf kingdoms or tribes of giants that have been making the Carpathians uninhabitable since the time of the Huns, then Magic is the way to go.
Faerie, on the other hand, is more ephemeral and dreamlike. You don't really need an explanation for the Faerie troll under the bridge or the white ladies from the lake. It's easier to keep a game focused on the human world when your supernatural creatures lean towards Faerie.
Oh, I agree 100%. But if the magic ecosystem is secluded(as "high in the highest mountains" or "deep under the Carpathians") then it can exist side-by-side and a "low fantasy" world still exist effectively.
But no, if giants are waddling casually around the Alps, then the St. Bernard Pass, and most of Europe and European life, is a much diff thing than in most sagas.
A lot of folks have brought up some good points already. Since you say that you arn't considering previously published material as being restrictive, I would add this tidbit for thought. Stories of Giants are prevalent in most medieval and ancient cultures. Therein, it seems safe to assume that there must be (or at least have been) Faerie Giants. Whether those stories were inspired by "real" giants depends on the flavor/feel/style of your Saga. "Real" giants would probably be Magical creatures, although as someone pointed out, technically you can have giants from any realm.
As for the bits about them being visible/discovered vis a vis high fantasy, etc., I have always felt that was why ArM had Regios. You can have your Dwarves under the mountain or Giants in Carpathia, they just live in a regio. Maybe you have to walk through the heavy fogs after a summer storm, maybe you have to know the way there already, or maybe the regio opens or closes by astrological events or some other grand time table. Your giants could only have just recently emerged from their Regio unaware that hundreds of years have passed. ArM really allows for pretty much any scenario you like.