While 'the grind' is loathed by all, it is defined by every person slightly differently. All games will have varying amounts of repitition, it is just a matter of if there are enough PREFERRED tasks for one to repeat in order for any given player to have at least a few they can alternate between and thus keep things from going stale for them.
Atop that there is the need to "progress", and since I think I mentioned that I'd want to avoid the level-based treadmill game focus... that does mean there would need to be other goals available for players. The one I am most fond of is the idea of unlocking playable races. We unlock playable characters in arcade mode on console games, and if the success of pokémon is any indication then the urge to collect things/characters is very strong in us. (How to unlock races would likely need both combat and non-combat options... again, to avoid forcing players into game play they dislike or find to be a "grind".)
Of course this would mean that the default starting race would need to be the most versitile race in the game. One which you could build up to fill any role you may want to pursue. This means that no player is outright FORCED to take up the "collect the races" goal if they are not interested in it. The number of character slots an account has should be equal to the total number of playable races, imo. It would only be polite to make sure a player has enough slots for 1 of each race plus one extra for a pet/minion.
- The one extra slot is because I'm of the inclination to say pets should fill slots as well. Meaning, if you make your first character, and go the Ranger w/ pets angle you could stick different pet/minions in your character slots instead of alts. If you're the type to only bother with one character and would rather collect pets, that would be an option. Playing as one of the animals now and then may be entertaining, although likely with far more limitations than a playable race character would have. (No speech options, no bags, no money, etc.) Yet, I can see how running around biting people could be amusing for some people.
- Pets filling slots is less weird if taking into account that I do rather support the mechanic I've seen toyed with in some other games... where a player can use more than 1 character at a time. Sword of the New World comes to mind, where you can play 3 characters at once... and Allode's Gibberlings are played as a trio as well. I mainly support this for the sake of people I know who would like to be able to "solo" but still tackle group quests if they're able to play multiple characters. I've had friends who would dual account and play their DPS and Healer side by side in real time. I think being able to play up to 3 characters at a time would be nostalgic of console RPG games, and add interesting options.