In JAGS each combat round is six seconds--what's going on during all that time? Furthermore, I'd said, in a post, that movement 'with an attack' was quite possible. If I'm playing with a battle-map does that mean I get "free movement" with an attack--even though the rules say you need to make an Init Roll by 5+ in order to get a 'free step' with an attack?
What's going on?
What's Going On?
In short form: we want to acknowledge that the rules are not trying to be ultra-prescriptive and that sometimes the GM and Players will need to make decisions about what happens in the imaginary space of the game in order to fill in the gaps. However, the rules are expected to provide balance and a foundation for the imaginary action.
Consider this thought experiment: A "Dodge" action does not usually imply any movement at all. There is a Retreating Option that can be used for extra REA--but usually the Dodge action is pretty much silent when it comes to determining if you changed location.
What that "implies" is that all characters Dodging are kind of like Neo in The Matrix, who dodges bullets while his feet are stuck to the floor. Clearly that's not what most people probably imagine and it makes no sense to anyone with any experience dodging, well, anything.
So there's a disconnect.
Basically what this means is "The Rules Track Tactically Important Positioning." That's in quotes because it's still a guideline. We think the concept of a dodge implies some moving around and the rules are necessarily silent as to that because (a) there are a lot of different kind of dodges and the rules could get complex and (b) we think that's what you have a GM for, anyway.
In The Context Of An Attack
The rules in the book on Reach (pg 116) give specific yards-ranges for different reaches--but I had said, in another post, that an attack could have like a yard of movement one way or another. So Thomas asked, logically, how to reconcile the two (if I am understanding it). Here's how: barring any compelling reason not to, use the rules. If you are 3 yards away from an opponent then you're at Long Reach range and require a Step action to close.
But what about the yard?
Conceptually speaking you might "close the yard" and the opponent might "step back a yard" and that would not cost anyone REA or even be tracked at all--it just might be imagined. Or you might, if you were in range already, close a yard (again, in the player's imagination) and strike and then circle slightly, and then be back at roughly your starting distance (since no one paid REA to close--which would have tactical implications).
In other words, given the gray areas (six second rounds and the allowance of movement for things like blocks and dodges and so on) it is acceptable to, for example, slightly change the position of characters on a battle map so long as (a) no one objects to a change and (b) you keep the tactical situation roughly the same.
So All This Free Stuff Is Just Un-Important Imaginary Stuff?
Well ... no. Or rather, "Yes" and "No." As a GM I would, for example, allow a dodging character to move kind of randomly to one side or another or back "for free" as a result of the dodge and if that--later--became tactically important I'd be okay with that. I would not allow someone to always make their "dodging moves" so as to, for example, close distance with an enemy they wanted to hit in a dedicated fashion: dodging doesn't (to my mind) work like that.
In the case of HTH combat where Reach is important I'd enforce the rules for closing--but I very well might allow circling of a yard or so with both parties moving. So long as REA is being spent for the attack and the lateral movement is not tactically significant (in the immediate time frame) that's not a problem.
Why Do This?
Well, in the original JAGS we had 1-second rounds and did track movement to the yard at all times. This was good for battle maps but it was very bad for simulating combat. Watch a UFC? There's a lot of time where not much happens. JAGS combats were over in like 3 seconds ... always. That was a weakness of the system--you could say--but really, the "game time" it took to play it out was about right--it was satisfying to us.
So our choice was to keep the real play-time fixed and increase the imaginary time (a bit--now those UFC fights are all 18-24 second knockouts which is still ridiculous but not unheard of--and we have had plenty of battles that have, in game, lasted several minutes where tactical movement is involved or the PCs simply don't want to charge into combat).
How Do I Do This In My Game?
If the above isn't clear the answer is this: (a) you apply the rules and assume nobody moves unless they pay REA and then (b) you try to imagine what you think the action kinda looks like --without-- requiring everyone's feet be nailed to the floor and then allow for that motion so long as it isn't breaking the game.
We expect the GM to be able to go even further: there will necessarily be situations in the game we have not provided rules for (We're fighting on a quasi-open horizontal dimensional portal--WHERE ARE THE RULES!?) and we think that's fine. The GM can make judgements (and so can Players--the GM just has veto authority) to maneuver characters however is necessary. These can and will have significant tactical effects and that's, again, okay--just use your best judgement and if people at the table disagree work it out like adults. That's our best advice.