Things are getting a bit puzzly...

Reveal the Ladder and solve the clues to form a Word Ladder.

Find the word that fits in the clue “???”.

One fake clue is here to ruin your day [laughs wickedly]

$$\color{white}{\textsf{3}}$$S$$\color{white}{\textsf{1}}$$N$$\color{white}{\textsf{T}}$$A$$\color{white}{\textsf{a}}$$K$$\color{white}{\textsf{9}}$$E$$\color{white}{\textsf{6}}$$S$$\color{white}{\textsf{Z}}$$

Note:

All words are of the same length and the altered letter in each round is different.

Hint:

All clues are given with the correct form/ tense as the intended answer

This puzzle is a part of Ooohh, it all makes sense now! :D

• I don't know word ladders. They're one letter different at each step? Does that include the three operations, ADD, REMOVE, CHANGE? (Yes I have the clues) – LeppyR64 Jun 28 '19 at 2:40
• @LeppyR64 I think it's "change" only, since the note says all words are the same length. – jafe Jun 28 '19 at 2:52
• Ah, missed that (how?) thanks @jafe – LeppyR64 Jun 28 '19 at 2:54

LeppyR64 found the secret ladder using bit.ly\31Ta96Z.
SeaMonkey basically solved the ladder, but did not deal with the ??? And fake clue.

Given the comment that the fake clue does not lead to word, here is the ladder and explanation I arrived at:

BEEN - visited, travelled
BEAN - a pod of seeds
LEAN - with little fat
READ - study for a specialized qualification
TOLD - gave them instructions or information

Fake clue = ask for permission or help

• fake clue means a clue that does not lead to a word, not one that leads to a wrong word. – Omega Krypton Jul 3 '19 at 23:11
• in other words no BEAD. keep it up! – Omega Krypton Jul 3 '19 at 23:11
• @OmegaKrypton Do I need to use all the words in the ladder? For example I can get from word #1 to word #5 in my answer already, if I can discard three words. – JS1 Jul 3 '19 at 23:36
• yes, all including ??? and except one fake clue – Omega Krypton Jul 3 '19 at 23:46
• @seamonkey it followed the theme of the other answers in the metapuzzle – LeppyR64 Jul 5 '19 at 14:07

The fake clue is:

SNAKES - It's actually 3S1NTAaK9E6SZ

bit puzzly...

Clues:

"???" - This is the answer

"a pod of seeds"

bean

seek? plea?

"gave them instructions or information"

"route"

"study for a specialised qualification"

?

"unpleasant man"

"visited, travelled"

been

"with little fat"

lean

• I think the one you are missing is simply READ. – Sid Jun 28 '19 at 5:18
• congrats on the steganography part! yet the fake clue is in the ladder. keep it up! – Omega Krypton Jun 29 '19 at 9:40