Bashiok teased players with one of the Diablo III features that have not been announced yet: How to upgrade base weapons damage to make them more powerful? The answer is not former Diablo II runes. Say whoa? We will probably have to wait until Blizzcon 2009 this August to find out or one of the BlizzCasts? Additionally, we learn something about the Wizard.
Bashiok: The sort of plate-like gauntlets shown on her are part of the armor set look she was wearing. I think the “focus” you’re talking about is actually an orb, which is a wizard-specific off hand item. You’ve got the idea right though, a lot of the wizard spell animations incorporate the orb into a sort of focusing element while casting. The electrocute and disintegrate videos show it pretty well.
Bashiok: I think it’s important not to mistake the word used for a system (in this case rune) for what the systems are actually accomplishing.
In Diablo II runes were used to augment weapons and essentially add more stats to them, runes in certain combinations would create runewords which were in essence more powerful than the sum of each individual rune. But remove the word rune, and you’re looking at a system that simply upgrades items.
Similarly, runes in Diablo III, take away the word rune and we’re looking at a system where skills and abilities can be altered to behave differently, simply increased in effectiveness, or some combination thereof.
Essentially what your question comes down to then is, where is the system in Diablo III that allows us to make base weapons more powerful? And that’s a question that will have to be answered at a later time.