How to animate a spline mesh in real time?

I’m looking to create tentacles and tentacle effects, but I would like to avoid using bones in the mesh. The most promising method appears to be spline meshes, but I’ve heard that I might run into problems with manipulating/getting the spline to move and generate the mesh in real time. Thus, I’m asking if such a thing is possible. I’d also like to ask those more experienced than me how they would go about making tentacles and tendrils; particularly in use for effects.