My Github site (https://github.com/Skywola/anim) has some serious animation going on using bones . . . . and all I can tell you with regard to armatures is that from my perspective, Blender does not regard an armature as anything more than a root for a bone rig. The project I am working on is something that will allow the artist to rapidly animate a biped, quadruped, centaur, or a spider, by simply attaching the character to the pre-made skeleton, and pressing the play button. After you run the script file contained in the Blender file, it creates the skeleton, and when you press the play button, the character walks. (Later more capability will be added, like running, galloping, etc.) This is probably enough functionality-wise, once you get a handle on the code, to do what you are wanting to do. You are going to need to understand Python, how to get information on what you are trying to do, and be able to hack it all together to make it work, but if I can do what I have done with this project, there is no reason you should not be able to do what you are planning . . . . The most simple script is the spider rig, the most complicated is the centaur rig.
I post updates on this project regularly on (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6677523), which is an open group you can join.
This following notice is important for getting the script running:
The usual caution notice: Be advised! From now until I create a all-inclusive interface, when you open the file in Blender, you will need to click the “Run Script” button in the lower right panel of the text editor, that way you will get all the options that you can modify to change the characteristics of the movements, which is important! If you do not do that, you will have no way of seeing all of your options, nor will you even see the character’s bones. This goes for ALL characters. I noted that if I just upload the file, with the character in it, it does not show all the options in the tools panel. Also be aware that to see the tool panel, you will need to put your cursor over the 3D window, then press “n”. You have to do this after you have pressed the “Run Script” button in the lower right panel of the text editor.