Is the "Shuriken(5)" entry in Players Handbook actually 5 weapons, i.e. the player can attack 5 times without pulling out more shurikens, or a single "notional" weapon and all 5 of the shurikens are thrown in a single attack ?
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It's five single weapons.
Because five shurikens cost one gold, you buy them in units of 5. But they are used singly.
You should treat them like you would throwing daggers or even arrows, they are basically like ammunition without a weapon to fire them (unless you count your hands). The only reason you buy them in fives, is because it comes to a round number of money, I believe they are usually 1gp. Similarly, you don't buy arrows individually. You use one per attack (unless the attack states differently) so you could count them each as individual weapons that get used up when they are fired, much like arrows. If you are DM you could possibly make them use a minor action to take out the shurikens initially, like you would a sword or a bow. But thats up to the DM. basically you wouldn't generally fire all 5 in one attack.