Ok, there are so many great things going on that I can't keep up so hopefully my best shot will do well enough. I just couldn't say no to this one.
My plan is an arena that is in an underground cavern.
At some point (appropriate underground dwellers of dark desire appropriate to whatever world you have) dug into a vast cavern that was later turned into an arena for entertainment, execution, election purposes, whatever. Interestingly, one end of the chamber ends at an underground lake connected to the Sea. Sound like a great way to escape? Perhaps, but why are the last 40 feet at that end of the arena worn smooth almost as if someone polished it? Furthermore what are those deep gouges that seem to draw one's eye toward the water? Ask anyone of the denizens who might speak to you and they might explain that the beating of the drums prior to each Arena event is the invitation to the local Kraken that just loves a free meal. Heck, he's been known to reach out and pluck anyone he can reach right out of the battle. Go there at your peril.
Why you ask would I design such a diabolical twist into what is already a terrible place? Well, just imagine facing an opponent you can not beat. Care to test your speed vs. the Sea Monster? Perhaps you are faster than your foe? An added point of stress for my good friends who sit around my table every now and then thinking they can have all the gold they want..
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that you adventurers, trespassers really, should decide the order in which you will be loaded into the cages because well...it matters...muahahaha!
That's right folks, there is a series of cages on a track that will be time released every so many minutes (best for Game Masters to choose the time based on party strength vs the opponents you plan to pit them against). Say 5, 10 minutes? Perhaps 1 or 2d6 minutes will suffice. Sure, the purloiner of light wares might be able to pick a lock but what of the archer up on the high ground?
You could design the cages however you want them to be, maybe completely enclosed so nobody but the fighters who are out can see what's going on or perhaps there is a small slit they can peek through while they wait to join the fray. Imagine the beautiful stress the players will go through working out who goes first...hehehehe.
Actually, it would make for a fun team vs team combat strategy game wouldn't it?
So I began this thing today, let's see if I can get it done. I plan for it to work in a VTT setting such as Maptools so that's my goal. These images are shrunk, the original is 300ppi and 14" x 17" when printed....at least that's my goal for the final.
Image 1 is a background I made up and some lines for layout.
Image 2 is some of the walls of the cavern and the water's edge.
Image 3 has the first balcony overlooking the arena floor as well as the high ground and a few rocks for cover if you are dodging arrows.