Dwarf Fortress will soon provide another way to mistreat your hapless peons. The upcoming arena mode will give you an open playground to experiment with the game's NPCs, letting you place down different creatures, select their skills and equipment, and sic them on one another for your own twisted amusement. You'll be able to sort your combatants into teams, give them special characteristics (like "necromancer," for example), and even mess with the weather or place down hindrances like snow and mud.
DF creator Tarn Adams said (opens in new tab) the patch should be coming "early next week" in an update posted to Steam yesterday. Arena mode has been in regular, ASCII-style Dwarf Fortress for a while now, but it's one of those things—like Adventure Mode (opens in new tab)—that's still on the Steam version's to-do list. As well as letting you live out your fantasies of becoming a kind of dwarven Caesar Augustus, the colosseum will come with a few new arena maps in addition to the one from the regular version of the game.
Adams says that the devs "are hoping to add an editor and save/load/sharing capabilities for these maps in the future as well," but doesn't give a precise release window on that. For now, you'll have to stick with the included options, which do at least have a working save/load function, letting you return to an ongoing brawl later on if you have to step away.
Those players who aren't all about naked bloodlust will also find the arena to be a handy tool for testing mods before publishing them. If you've invented some entirely new genre of dwarf, you'll be able to dump them into the mode and make sure they don't crash your hard drive before you go putting them on the Dwarf Fortress Steam Workshop (opens in new tab).
Dwarf Fortress has already had a few updates since it finally came to Steam at the beginning of last December. In that time, the game has made nearly 10 million bucks (opens in new tab), smashed its two-month sales estimate, and even acquired a second programmer (opens in new tab). Oh, and it's pretty good, too (opens in new tab).