Achieving high-performance long-duration plasma discharges in tokamaks is one of the most important challenges to be addressed in the perspective of the development of a power plant. For this purpose, real-time handling of off-normal events has to be performed through a dedicated plasma discharge management system. In this paper, we describe the main requirements and features of such a system. A generic architecture, based on the principle of subsidiarity, is proposed. A full set of actions is covered, starting from the local subsystems up to the tokamak as a whole, with different levels of mitigation strategies. A simulation of a relevant test case, based on the Tore Supra tokamak, showing the basic principles of the study, is also presented.