You are always going to "Need" the proper plugins. Yes, they can be switched out, but with the system you want, if you turn off all plugins, you get a blank page.
Certain "plugin categories" WILL be required. For instance, if Plugin A outputs the final page to the screen, I'm pretty sure it is a required plugin. Now, should someone write Plugin B that does the same thing as Plugin A, you could swap the two out, as they both fall into the "Outputs the Page to the Browser" category. Sure, you could disable A and never install B, but without either of them, you have no front end for users. This is just an example.
For another example, look at user authentication.
Plugin A - Standard Auth Module
Plugin B - LDAP Auth
Plugin C - Open ID Auth
Plugin D - Custom Auth
Plugin E - OTHER
You could disable all of the above and completely disallow front end users. Since you are running a forum, though, that is kinda stupid. None of them are "required" for the website to run, but at least one of them is "required" if you want users. If someone makes Plugin F, just drop it in and use it... or don't if you don't want users.
If something is coded into the "core" of the system, you say that it needs to be a plugin. If it's made into a plugin, and at least one thing of it's type is required for basic front end operation, you say it's not flexible enough. In this case, would this work?
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