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This article is about a piece of terminology in multiple series.
It may contain spoilers for each.
"For me, the world-view of When They Cry is 'pieces moving on the gameboard and a player that observes them and tries to find out the rules of the game'. Each piece on a gameboard has its own winning conditions and moves by its own rules. These pieces meet, interfere with each other, some invisible from the first glance chemistry borns between them. By actions that these pieces take in those situations you can understand the rules, and that world-view is a fundamental rule of When They Cry."
— Ryukishi07 in Famitsu Special Interview 10/24/2019

The Rules (ルール Rūru) in the When They Cry series are constants that define how the pieces on a game board move and react.

General Concept

Fragments can have any manner of variable affecting the worlds within, which in turn affect game boards. The Rules however generally remain consistent and will always manifest unless they are overcome or through other interference. In many cases, one Rule manifests because of the effects of another Rule.

The Rules of Higurashi

Higurashi When They Cry's Rules are first established in Minagoroshi. Click the collapsible below for more information.


This article or section contains untagged major spoilers for the original Higurashi When They Cry and possibly the console-exclusive arcs. Readers who have not completed the main story are advised not to proceed further.

The Rules in the visual novel are explained by an unknown narrator, which in the manga is shown to be Frederica Bernkastel who educates Rika Furude about them.

The three Rules are as follows:

Rule X

A random person becomes violent under the influence of paranoid thoughts.

At least one person, usually Keiichi Maebara, Shion Sonozaki. or Rena Ryuugu, will succumb to paranoia and eventually kill some people. This can be caused by Rule Y, Rule Z, or will manifest interdependently.

Rule Y

Jirou Tomitake and Miyo Takano will get killed on the night of Watanagashi.

Tomitake is always found dead in June of 1983, and Takano will follow suit either by disappearing or being found dead herself. As they are the fifth victims of the curse, suspicion falls onto the Sonozaki family, long suspected of masterminding it every year.

Rule Z

The Sonozaki family always acts as if they are responsible, no matter if they are or not.

The Sonozaki family follows a precept that anything that happens in the village, the Sonozakis must act as though they were behind it all along, making it seem as though they have lots of influence. The result is that many people, including Kuraudo Ooishi, believe they are responsible for Oyashiro-sama's curse and will spread this idea to other people, sometimes resulting in Rule X taking effect.

The Rules of Umineko

Umineko When They Cry's Rules are explored in the side story Bernkastel's Letter and revealed explicitly in the Twilight of the Golden Witch manga. The manga also introduces the idea that Rules remain consistent so long as the Game Master keeps them consistent, as revealed by Battler's explanation of the fifth game, which had a different Game Master than the previous one.

See the Writing Process section of Message Bottles for specific information.


  • The sets of rules in both Higurashi and Umineko have three rules. In both cases, the rules are named X, Y, and Z.