Factors of 8 are sensible, however when you work big, uniformity of the layout can be compromised by any number of factors, such as whether the table for the display is level and can support the weight, and subtle variances in area for larger pieces.
Stone Goblin and I use baseplates, but we elevate the overall height by a brick and then apply plates. We do this so that we can put 2x1 technic bricks on corners, 2 studs away from the edge so we can keep things locked together. If you plan for it, you can add sink holes and ponds, and you can always build higher.
If there is at all any downside, it's that special baseplates don't line up as conveniently. For Space fans, you might as well just stick with the baseplate as your lowest level, and creating piles of plate to create the altitude you want.
The important thing is to make sure SOME of your roads meet a standard: You'll want some roads to be unique, and definitely organic looking with grass patches that rise a bit over the path height, and winding in and out a bit. If you get to a crossroads, you can have a piece like this, so if someone creates a wholly tan dirt path, it will be perfectly matched.
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A 2 stud from the border dirt path can work, or a thirds approach with grass, dirt path, grass, but I think it will be best to keep small paths centered in the area. I see no problem with doing large dirt paths that are half dirt, half grass, so to connect next to similar pieces to create wider roads. As a pixel artist, I've had to deal with tile challenges before. You don't want to restrict things too much, but you want an efficient design, therefore it's good to rely on communcation between others for the layout.
If the styles of your scenes do not match, then getting a system for pairing pieces together will be the least of your worries.