Quote from Zakaz
Such a shame I can't give more than +1 to this post.
I did it for you
That said, I do agree. Runewords were the devil, and the bane of many an honest player. What I wouldn't mind, though, would be Rune-equivalent "Power Stones" or some such. They wouldn't be massive, strictly equal to Tier 6 or weaker affixes (you know, the same one +58 to a stat falls into) and be unique within each item (so no stacking three on a chest piece), but it would just be more interesting than seeing sockets and thinking of them as just base stats. Heck, you could even restrict each of these power stones to slots which could normally hold the affix, and it would still be a wonderful thing.
Take for example, right now a Radiant Star Emerald is the only real choice for a weapon (unless you REALLY need LOH for some reason)... but what would happen if a socketed wand could add a couple points of APoC? Resource abilities, lifesteal, CC affixes, Crit rate, Indestructable, Resists, technique affixes, and quite a few others might just prove to be interesting alternatives. Always on the lower end of the spectrum, of course, you'll never be able to make a 70 Resist-All Stone (though you might just get 15, or 25 to a specific resist)
Let me reiterate: these WILL NOT be able to combine into runewords (not that the 2-3 character ones were very much good anyway), and will never grant an otherwise-unusable ability to anyone. With all of that, though, all the mats needed for them are already in-game (just use the existing crafting mats, and you're golden). It can work.