Vagrant Story questions: for seasoned veterans

SK, I’m looking in your direction. 8)

Okay, in my spare time, I’m working on Vagrant Story. Currently, I’m on my fourth playthrough with about 15 titles. I’m shooting for a mastered game. However, I have a few questions.

1: How many playthroughs should I do BEFORE tackling the game without using Chain Abilities, Defense Abilities, and Magic?

2: I know what it tkes to combine 3 blades into a weapon with perfect 100 stats. However, can this be done with any blades? I’m trying to construct a 100 in every stat crossbow, Hand of Light, and a few other types.

Thanks for your time.