'Intelligently' joining meshes?

Is it possible to join (overlapping) meshes in such a way that that edges at the intersections can be smoothed (using subsurf)? For example: if you look at the dupliverts tutorial (http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:Manual/Modelling/Objects/Duplication/DupliVerts), the very last image shows a combination of a sphere and ‘tentacles’. It is ofcourse possible to join all of those into one mesh, but that won’t result in a smooth transition between the sphere and the tentacles if you use subsurf. That would require you remove some of the vertices of the tentacles, and to merge some others with vertices of the sphere.
Another example of the effect I want to achieve might be the blob feature in Povray, for people that are familiar with it. (I am aware that this is much easier in povray due to totally different approach of surfaces, but I’m just looking for something similar)
Is there a way to do this kind of things automatically, maybe with a script or something? Or is it totally impossible?

Thanks for any help!