But Norman time and/or money IS ALWAYS limited (even for hobby projects), this is the point of the thread. Calling people lazy/greedy isnt really helping.
Combat is simplistic in my game so damage/hp scaling along with maybe blocking some abilities for lower tier monsters ("normal" mobs) will probably be enough. Same can maybe be done with ai/movement to give "champion monsters" some edge or slightly different behaviour.
I like the idea of some area buffing though. A matriarch spider can make other spiders in the party stronger, so you gain from taking that one down first. But then maybe that should be a different monster-type altogether.
Yeah how they do it in Borderlands (VERY similar solution to Diablo IMO) is kinda my idea as well. "Strong"/"badass" version that adds some extra danger and loot but reusing most of the assets.