In the dead of winter, there are few precious lights in Milwaukee. The Bucks might be doing well, and the Packers are hopefully still in the playoffs. (They are and they are.) Snow has gone from holiday fun time to a grim, grey reminder that summer is far away. Happily, a steady beacon in the darkness has been the Midwinter Gaming Convention, which brings its 17th year to the Hilton City Milwaukee Center January 12-15.

What began as a gathering of vampire-themed LARPs has quietly grown into a welcome celebration of games of all sorts. Attendees will find tabletop RPGs, board games, and LARPs of the brooding World of Darkness style, as well as the “whomp someone with a foam sword” style. Eschaton Media is also bringing its popular Dystopia Rising post-apocalyptic game to the event for folks who want to get a head start on getting their War Boy on before the world ends in the next couple of years.

Fans looking for some sweet con swag should dive into the convention’s Board Game Play to Win track. Over 80 games have been donated by various companies and other individuals, and will be raffled off to the people who play the games at the show. A variety of designers from Onyx Path Publishing—like Eddy Webb and Neall Price—will also be on hand to show off their upcoming games. Scion 2nd Edition is a modern urban fantasy whose main characters are the sons and daughters of classical gods, while Pugmire puts players in the roles of intelligent dogs in a far future world full of adventure and excitement. Don’t worry, internet: a cat expansion called Monarchies Of Mau will be previewed at the convention before a Kickstarter sometime this year.

This year’s special guest, John Wick, will also be bringing LARP rules for his wildly popular 7th Sea setting, which is a fantasy game for folks who prefer Pirates Of The Caribbean to Lord Of The Rings. The campaign for the Kickstarter raised over $1.3 million dollars, and many of the spoils will be available in the exhibit hall. Other guests include Monica Valentinelli, developer of the official Firefly RPG and author of the notable article We Have Always Been Here, Motherfucker” about women in fandom.

The games, guests, and giveaways at the show combine to make the Midwinter Gaming Convention a bright light in an otherwise uneventful Milwaukee winter. At least, until Mitten Fest.