That was also my first reaction...
Kaident, before trying to get other peoples opinion, maybe formulate an idea of your own. "Like Earthbound or Pokemon, but less Grindy and Random" is not really an idea of your own.
Start with the high level concept. Try, at some point to get away from references ("... like Earthbound"), start to explicitly state what that means ("... 2D RPG with vertically scrolling dungeons, no overworld, combat without a seperate combat interface, ..." (I have no idea about Earthbound, so I am improvising here, but you get the idea))...
1. You do no longer expect people to know all the games you refer to. Not everyone has played every game, but ESPECIALLY the input from people not into your genre of choice can be extremly valuable. Because they are for certain not thinking in stereotypes, whereas many genre insiders often are.
2. You are free now to change the formula, without having to list things you want to NOT include. And you are no longer trying to recreate an existing game, you are creating your own genuine vision.
3. It will get your creative juices flowing. If you keep not REALLY working on the concept by just sticking to "...like <insert game name here>" references, you will always think of your references, but not of the game YOU want to build. That is most probably why you cannot think of how to design your battle system.
Its extremly easy to avoid randomness and grindyness in RPGs. Make it more of an Action Adventure, leave out levelling, stick to fixed damage.
There are ramifications though: if you stick to not level the character, players will miss the sense of advancement. You will need to introduce items (new weapons, better armour), or other ways of improving the characters (more hearts like in Zelda), or you will need to improve other parts of the game (maybe the story is so cpative that players don't care their character is not advancing in gameplay terms?) to make up for the missing levelling.
If you leave out all randomness, you will have to really think about your combat system. In an action adventure like Zelda, that is no problem. There is a skill component involved (dodging attacks, choosing the right attack), and fighting is not so important (there are also puzzles, and story). If you stick to a turnbased system, you might need a more tactical approach like in the Disgae games, or Final Fantasy Tactics, where the characters also have to be moved to attack on a tilebased combat area.
Ok, first of all, I'm not trying to get other people's opinions. Rather, I am trying to get suggestions. An example would be kseh's comment or your comment about fixed damage, thank you for that. I'm trying to find out where to start. I don't have knowledge of every game in existence and I know this goes for everyone else. But there are games that I don't know of (I only recently learned of Earthbound) and other people do. This is why I came here to gamedev.
Second, I know saying "Like Earthbound" isn't an original idea. It's not even an idea, it's a description. You don't have to have played Earthbound or Pokemon to know what 2D means, and if you haven't played them, it's not hard to go to youtube and look up game play on the device you are using to read this message. If you haven't seen game play and have no idea what I'm talking about, it's not hard to learn about what I'm talking about through the internet. (In fact I've never played Zelda, but I have seen some game play so I knew what you were talking about when you referenced Zelda) If you don't care to know what I'm talking about, then there's no reason for you to say anything.
Third, I only referenced Earthbound when I was talking about the mechanics outside of battle. IN FACT, I had specifically said "I plan for it to be a 2D RPG like Earthbound but with a different combat system." When I talking about pokemon, I only talked about the problem with it's combat system. I was explaining something that I was trying to avoid. None of this had to do with recreating a game, nor does it affect my "creative juices." I'm trying to collect information for to use my "creative juices" on.
Fourth, it's ironic that you decided to reference Zelda. But I'll be nice and not care.
Fifth, "If you leave out all randomness, you will have to really think about your combat system." THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. I'm using collected information to REALLY think about the combat system I want to have because I A) don't want to make the same mistakes that other gaming companies or creators have made. B) I want to make mine different from others. It's the ENTIRE point of me being here on gamedev.
Also, don't misinterpret what I say next time.